Not so Eager finally gets the job done


His connections knew it would be a heart-stopper and Eager didn't disappoint after coming up trumps in a head-bobbing finish to snap his maiden status at Kembla Grange.

"He's a tricky horse because he really needs to get there just on the line," Bart and James Cummings' foreman Nacim Dilmi said after the Maiden Plate (1000m). "I don't think he'll ever win by a big margin, [but] as long as he wins it's good for the stable."

And the colt managed to do just that, having just a half-head to spare from easing favourite Miggeru ($2.10f), which rallied late under the urgings of top provincial hoop Paul Hammersley.

The Cummings' stable apprentice Hannah Martin stalked Gai Waterhouse's top pick into the straight and switched off its heels to throw down the challenge. Eager ($4.20) appeared to edge clear inside the final 100 metres, but Miggeru fought back to force the judge to separate them.

The three kilogram-claiming Martin, one of the tallest female jockeys around, thought she got the decision at Eager's fifth time of trying until she remembered his make-up.

"I thought I [had won], but then I realised he has quite a short neck compared to the other horse," Martin said. "When he gets past them he labours, but he finally got it done [on Saturday]."

Martin can probably thank fellow hoop Jeff Penza for Eager's win because he recommended the three-year-old tackle the short back-up.

Penza nursed Eager to a luckless third at Newcastle over 900m a week earlier and could only manage third on the well-backed Frill Seeking ($3.80) on Saturday.

"We found this race for him [on Saturday] and he got the job done," Dilmi said. "He's a home bred and we've had the half brother and have got the half sister at the moment. Unfortunately the half-sister [Rhythms] is still a maiden after 12 starts.

"He'll probably go for a spell now as that's his first racing prep."

Martin's day ended on a sour note when she was suspended for careless riding aboard Midnight Ride. She will return on Thursday.

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