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The further the better for Just Junior

Bred with a jumping career in mind, Just Junior will first chase victory in a stakes race on the flat at Flemington.

A half-brother to Warrnambool Grand Annual Steeplechase winners Al Garhood and Regina Coeli, Just Junior runs in Saturday’s Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (3200m).

Just Junior is prepared by Ciaron Maher who this week was charged following investigations into the ownership bona fides of Azkadellia and four other horses in his stable.

Maher said he would not comment on the case with no date yet set for the hearing.

He is cautious about Just Junior who he says has more flat ability than his siblings.

“He won a 3000 metre race at the Valley going back a while but he hasn’t raced a lot since,” Maher said.

“I still think the ability is there but he appreciates a bit of give in the track which he might not get on Saturday.”

Maher intends starting Just Junior’s jumping career this campaign.

The seven-year-old had his first hurdle school in 2014 and then spent almost two years sidelined with a tendon strain which returned again when he was being prepared for a campaign in 2016.

“He came back and had a few trials last year then it flared up a bit so I stopped again,” Maher said.

“He’s had a few runs now and a hurdle trial and he seems to be back on track.”

Maher said Just Junior jumps impressively and he may map out a program towards the Grand National Hurdle later in the season.

“Whether he’s good enough we’ll see,” Maher said.

“I certainly think he would be but in the future a longer journey and bigger jumps will suit.

“He may go chasing later in the year.”

Maher said Regina Coeli, who won her second Grand Annual earlier this month, was spelling.

The mare pulled up lame following the win but Maher says she is recovering and he hopes she can return for a defence of the race next year when she could be joined by her younger sibling.

“She’s getting on a bit now but her brother raced on until he was 12 or something,” Maher said.

“We prep her up for one race and luckily we’ve got it right a couple of times.”

Maher has three other runners at Flemington on Saturday.

Aloisia runs in the Saintly Hall of Fame Trophy, Mandee in the Light Fingers Hall of Fame Trophy and Haradafull in the Archer Hall of Fame Trophy.

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