Yass locals will be cheering on the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Right You Are in Saturday’s Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).

Right You Are – a seven-year-old by So You Think out of Leica Ding – was bred and raised locally by the Merriman family, and the gelding has since started 25 times for ten wins, earning connections just shy of $1 million in prize money.

In an enthralling finish to the 2023 Mornington Cup (2400m) in April, Right You Are held off Hezashocker in a thrilling head-bobbing finish, securing him automatic entry into Saturday’s $5 million Caulfield Cup (2400m).

Matt Merriman, the latest in his family to dabble in thoroughbred breeding, said it is a thrill just to have a Group 1 runner, let alone a horse who brings genuine claim into one of Australia’s biggest races and toughest staying tests.

“We’re sheep and cattle breeders,” Merriman said in an interview with Racing.com

“We run rural properties around the Yass area in Southern New South Wales.

“We’ve been here for a long time doing that, but we’ve also bred some horses for a lot of years.

“My father before me, my grandfather before him and my great grandfather initially, so we’ve always been breeding and racing horses.

“My father bred a horse that won a Western Australian Derby, but he sold it as a yearling.

“We had an old foundation mare called Fashion Play, who I think we bred 13 foals out of, and she had a fairly handy one called Sporting that won the Wagga Gold Cup.

“Every 10 or 15 years we seem to get a good one, but I think Right You Are is the next level – I’ve never experienced a horse that we’ve bred that is this good. “For us to have a horse racing in a Group 1, it’s the stuff that dreams are made of.”

Winning local country cups only fuelled the hunger for Merriman, who attended the 2014 Inglis Broodmare Sale in Sydney with a view to purchasing a more commercial mare capable of breeding the family some city performers. Staying mare Leica Ding filled the bill.

A winner of the Group 3 Geelong Cup before tackling the 2009 Melbourne Cup, the daughter of Redding was being offered in foal to, So You Think.

“We decided that we wanted to breed a metropolitan winner, so we went down to the mares sale in Sydney with a couple of nice mares in mind,” Merriman said.

“One was a filly that won the New Zealand Oaks called Midnight Oil and we were underbidder on her.

“We found Leica Ding out the back – she was a 10-year-old maiden mare in foal to So You Think – and we ended up buying her for $120,000.

“She gave birth to a filly called So You Leica, who we raced – she ran fourth in the Fillies Classic in Adelaide. “We sent the mare to High Chaparral, and she missed, then we went back to So You Think and the result of that was obviously Right You Are.”

Former trainer Darren Weir, who prepared Leica Ding, bought a share in the youngster, who then moved to Ballarat to begin his career as a racehorse. Merriman said the signs were there early that Right You Are possessed above-average ability, although trainer changes and injury setbacks halted his momentum at times.

“We were in the middle of a drought here, so we decided that we’d sell some of the colt because things were pretty tough at the time here,” he said.

“I sale-prepped him here at the farm and got him ready and Darren Weir ended up buying 45 per cent of him and then we sold a couple of smaller shares to some other local friends.

“He went down to Ballarat and into Darren’s system before he was struck off, then he went to Mick Price for a while and now we’re with Ciaron and Dave.

“He wasn’t bred to be a two-year-old but when Weiry had him early he made a point of saying that he thought he was a very talented horse and that he’d make a nice older horse.

“At Mick’s he always showed good promise, right from when he won his maiden at Echuca and then at the end of 2020, we took him to Sandown, and he just blew them away and we thought we had a pretty good horse.

“We struck a couple of injuries, and we didn’t think that we’d get the horse back to the level that he’s at today.”

The final field and barrier for the Caulfield Cup came out on Wednesday afternoon following the running of the Coongy Cup (2000m) at Caulfield but before the Yass Valley Times went to print.

The locally-owned chance was a $34 chance with bookmakers and will carry 53kg.