Ciaron Maher and Dave Eustace won the feature staying double at Sandown last year and can do it again this year

Ciaron Maher and Dave Eustace won the two major staying races at Sandown a year ago and believe they have a gilt-edged chance to replicate that success on Saturday.

Maher and his team saw out the spring carnival with a bang last year when Southern France claimed the Zipping Classic and Azuro the Sandown Cup.

Bookmakers rate them a decent chance of repeating this year with Lord Belvedere a $6.50 chance in the Zipping Classic (2400m) and Etah James a $7 hope in the Sandown Cup (3200m).

In regards to Lord Belvedere, Cox Plate winning trainer Maher is taking confidence from the English import’s three successive wins before his last start but more particularly his form around Persan.

Persan ran a blinder when fifth in the Melbourne Cup behind Twilight Payment, beaten less than two and a half lengths, but Lord Belvedere beat Persan over 2500m at Flemington in September.

Things went pear-shaped for Lord Belvedere when finishing eighth behind Persan in The Bart Cummings but Maher is convinced there were excuses that day and feels Lord Belvedere will give the Zipping Classic a mighty shake.

“Lord Belvedere needs racing room but last time at the races he didn’t get it when he was cluttered away on the inside,” Maher said.

“It maybe wasn’t Jye McNeil’s greatest ride on Persan when Persan got beaten by Lord Belvedere that time, but Lord Belvedere still beat him.

“There may not be a lot between them.

“From a good draw on Saturday I think Lord Belvedere will take up a prominent spot and will run a really good race.”

Lord Belvedere and Ben Melham. Pic: Racing Photos via Getty Images.Source:Getty Images

Etah James, the winner of the Sydney Cup earlier this year, was beaten a long way in the Melbourne Cup but had no luck in the run.

Maher is convinced the eight-year-old mare is a genuine two-miler and will be strong at the finish.

“This is only going to be the fourth run of her campaign, so she definitely has some petrol left in the tank,” Maher said.

“She didn’t have any luck out wide in the Melbourne Cup and she is a genuine two-miler.”

Glen Boss will ride Etah James while Lord Belvedere’s regular rider Ben Melham retains the ride.

Originally published asMaher aims for history to repeat at Sandown

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