Hard to Say Goodbye
Tara Madgwick - Thursday March 14
Emirates Park have bred some outstanding horses over the years and one of the best has been Group I Australian Guineas winner Al Maher, who is relocating to Stockwell Thoroughbreds in Victoria this year without his long time handler Ejaz Hussein, who was there when he was a foal and has enjoyed a great partnership with the stallion.

Al Maher and Ejaz Hussein"He's my all time favourite, no question," said Ejaz Hussein.

"We had a really special bond and when he left last Wednesday it was hard to say goodbye. A lot of us here were emotional, he's a favourite with so many people."

Born on October 17, 2001, Al Maher is by breed shaper Danehill (USA) from blue blooded Show Dancing, so was a colt that has always carried the weight of expectation being a three-quarter brother to champion sire Redoute's Choice.

"He was well behaved and switched on from the start, an absolute gentleman," Hussein recalled.

"You could put fillies next to him and he just didn't care. After he was broken in, he went down to Gai and straight away everyone down there had a good opinion of him."

Sent to champion trainer Gai Waterhouse, Al Maher won his only two starts as a juvenile and returned at three to score multiple Group wins before racing to a dominant victory in the Group I VRC Australian Guineas at Flemington.

He always returned to Emirates Park to spell during his racing career continuing his association with Ejaz Hussein and ultimately retired to stand at his birthplace in 2005.

Al Maher has been a stalwart sire in the Hunter Valley ever since, producing the winners of over $44million in prizemoney. His offspring include 34 stakes-winners headed by his Group I winners Almalad, Fat Al, Diamond Drille and the jewel in the crown Delicacy, who was the Champion 3YO Filly of 2015 winning over $2million in prizemoney for her owner / breeders Bob and Sandra Peters.

Ejaz Hussein oversaw the preparation of many of his yearlings in his role as manager at the yearling barn and also looked after the stallion during the breeding season and in the covering shed.

"His progeny are a lot like him, great temperaments and easy to manage," said Hussein, who fondly remembered prepping his Group I winning son Almalad.

Al Maher has always had great fertility covering 1401 mares in his 14 seasons in the Hunter Valley and heads to Victoria in fine health and full of enthusiasm for the breeding season ahead.

"Of course I'll miss him, he was a dream horse and a huge part of my life. He was important to all of us here at the farm," Hussein added.

"Now I'll have a reason to go to Victoria!"