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Gardiner sets sights on Brisbane with bush qualifier

By Alex Nolan

A week ago Bundaberg trainer Darryl Gardiner was just trying to find a suitable race for his five-year-old gelding Emperor Maximilian.

This week he is searching for a Brisbane jockey to ride the Bundaberg Battle of the Bush qualifier in next month’s $100,000 final at Doomben.

It came about after his decision to take the former Hayes, Hayes, Dabernig runner away from turf tracks after feeling the run in his legs after his past few starts.

The end result was a win in the third qualifier at Bundaberg on Saturday and a ticket to Tattersall’s Tiara Day on June 23.

“He was only a Class 4 horse so we weren’t overly confident but we knew he would handle the (sand) track,” Gardiner said.

“The jockey did everything we asked him to do … it was a great thrill. The owners are over the moon and are now looking forward to getting to Brisbane.”

Gardiner said a return to the turf in Brisbane was of little concern.  

“It won’t be an issue because the track at Doomben because it won’t be as hard as some of the tracks in the bush,” he said.

Emporer Maximilian is set to have just the one run at Gladstone between now and the Battle of the Bush final, and Gardiner is already eyeing some of the state’s top riders.

“Matt McGillivray has done a bit of riding for me in Rockhampton, Jim Byrne has ridden for me and then there’s a guy like Michael Cahill. I’m hoping to get one of those blokes so I will be getting in early,” he said.

Emporer Maximilian joined the Gardiner stable in April 2017.

This season the gelding has recorded three wins from eight starts, including two wins at Gympie.