Stable stars back in the New Year

08:05 AM 26 Dec 2013 NZDT
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Darrel Graham
Darrel Graham

Darrel Graham will welcome his stable stars back in the New Year.

The leading Queensland based horseman will pick-up Montana Marie, Emperor Montana and Montana Falcon from the property of owner Dean Shannon early next month.

The talented trio are currently enjoying lengthy breaks, the biggest to date during their careers but that is by design.

“I will head-up the Sunshine Coast in January and pick them all up, I was up there recently and they all look fantastic so I’m pleased with their conditions.” Graham said.

It was a deliberate move by Graham to give them plenty of time away from the track, preferring to have them peaking during the cooler months of April onwards.

All three pacers enjoyed breakout campaigns last season, in particular, Montana Marie and Emperor Montana who both earned more than $100,000 in prizemoney will amassing 26 victories.

Giant mare Montana Marie won 16 races including 12 straight at one stage during her three-year old season while Emperor Montana visited the winner’s enclosure on ten occasions.

Both pacers tasted feature race glory with Montana Marie victorious in the Gr.2 $75,000 Nursery Pace Final at Albion Park in May while Emperor Montana scored in the Gr.3 $45,000 4yo Championship at Albion Park in July.

“Both horses did a super job last season and were deserving of their breaks. After they spent more than six weeks out and lost their muscle tone, it didn’t really matter how long they had off but I wanted them to have a real good blow.

“Winning the Nursery Pace was a massive thrill and very important for her long term value, she is a half-sister to I Am Sam and Dean will be breeding from her eventually, so to get some black-type against her name is an added bonus.

“Originally, we were going to retire her at the end of her last campaign but we’ve decided to give her another season of racing and I think that’s the right call.”

Graham won’t rush any of them back and long range targets are all but confirmed.

“I had no plans for either horse over the summer period and when they come back in they will work-up during a cooler period and be ready by around April all going to plan.

“They will have plenty of foundation work poured into them and plenty of trials to bring them back to full fitness before they step out for their returns.

“The ultimate target for Del (Montana Marie) is the Australasian Breeders Crown series in August while Emperor will be set for the Brisbane Winter Carnival in July.”

Meanwhile, current stable star Sign To Inverell will continue to race through his grades.

The Life Sign gelding has won four of his last five starts including the Redcliffe Christmas Cup in track record time.

by Chris Barsby

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