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Purcell claims Mornington’s Ansett Classic

Trainer Ciaron Maher is seen exiting the tribunal.
Shortly to take over the stable of Ciaron Maher, Aaron Purcell is ready for the challenge.

Shortly to take over the stable of Ciaron Maher, Warrnambool-based Aaron Purcell is ready for the challenge.

Maher was last week suspended for six months by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board over the ownership bona fides of five horses determined to be owned by convicted con man Peter Foster.

Purcell answered a call from Maher on Monday to gauge his interest and after discussing it with his family decided to take the job.

Before Purcell takes over Maher’s team that includes outstanding three-year-olds Jukebox, Merchant Navy and Aloisia on Monday, he had his own feature race to win, Saturday’s RM Ansett Classic (2400m) at Mornington.

The German-bred Swacadelic obliged for Purcell.

Ridden by apprentice Ben Allen, Swacadelic ($7) scored by a long neck from King Way ($4.40), with $2.60 favourite Settler’s Stone three-quarters of a length away in third.

“The instructions to Ben were to put him to sleep in the first half of the race and do nothing and bring him into the race late,” Purcell said.

“He’s got a reasonably good turn of foot for a stayer and that’s the way it worked out.”

Purcell said Swacadelic will not attempt to emulate last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Almandin.

The Lloyd Williams-owned stayer won the corresponding race last year, named the Harry White Classic at Caulfield on his way to Cup success, but Swacadelic has not been entered for this year’s Cup.

“Last year he was unlucky not to win the distance race on Melbourne Cup day and just missed out on the Sandown Cup,” Purcell said.

“Those sort of races are where he’ll be heading again.

“I’ve got a busier six months ahead but I’ll do my best to keep my Warrnambool horses going as well as I can.

“Today is a good day for myself and my owners.”

Purcell spent Saturday morning at Caulfield and is looking forward to the challenge ahead.

“I was at trackwork this morning with (Maher’s assistant trainer) David Eustace going through all the horses,” Purcell said.

“The horses are going fantastic. He’s got a great bunch of staff and we’re going to try and maintain that.”

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