Wil John takes out Jericho Cup for Maher & Eustace

Wil John wins Jericho Cup
Wil John ridden by Will Gordon (NZ) wins the Jericho Cup at Warrnambool Racecourse on November 28, 2021. (Alice Miles/Racing Photos)

Ciaron Maher and David Eustace once again showed their training expertise as Wil John claimed the fourth running of Australia’s longest flat race, the Jericho Cup (4600m), on Sunday afternoon at Warrnambool.

Restricted to gallopers bred in Australia and New Zealand, the $300,000 staying event is run in honour of the Light Horsemen and their steeds.

Starting as a $2.80 favourite under Will Gordon, Wil John had to carry the top weight of 70kg, conceding 4kg to runner-up Budd Fox and 5kg to the rest of the 12-horse field.

Having run third in the race last year, the six-year-old son of Reset strung five wins together between May and October, before running eighth in the Maccas Run Benchmark 96 (2800m) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day.

Three of those five wins had been over hurdles at distances of 3200m (twice) and 4200m, so the test of 4600m on the flat was no issue.

“To win it with Colin and Janice (McKenna), it’s unbelievable,” Maher told Racing.com.

“He’s a really special horse.

“His mother was one of the first yearlings I bought for Colin and Janice and to breed it and go through the whole ride and win a race like this, it’s very, very special.

“I’m a bit lost for words.”

Sunday’s result gave Maher & Eustace their second win in the Jericho Cup, after Ablaze was victorious in 2019.

The stable had two runners in this year’s edition, with Heberite running a distant third, some 13 lengths behind runner-up Budd Fox.

Wil John will now be on a similar campaign to his stablemate Ablaze, with the Grand Annual Steeplechase a likely target for the elite stayer in 2022 during the Warrnambool May Carnival.

Earlier in the program on Sunday, Austy Coffey and Aaron Lynch combined with Savvy Acquisition to win the Jericho Cup Consolation over 4065m.

The son of Savabeel was very easy in betting, drifting from $3.80 out to as much as $6 prior to the jump, but neither that nor the 69kg stopped the seven-year-old as he raced away to defeat Seminoles by 3.5 lengths.

Bryce Stanaway saddled up four runners in the eight-horse field, including the heavily backed Ventura Highway, but they rounded out the second half of the field, with the favourite finishing a distant 66.5 lengths back in last place.

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