Merion was included in the 2015 Tulloch Stakes field that was released yesterday and trainer Mike Moroney believes that the Group 2 event will test whether the talented gelding is capable of running out a strong 2000 metres.
Merion made his debut over 2000 metres in the Group 3 Caulfield Classic (2000m) at Caulfield on October 18 last year and he took up the running in the early stages of the race before he tired late to finish a disappointing ninth, but Moroney told Racing Ahead that the O’Reilly gelding had plenty of excuses for the poor run and is hopeful that the three-year-old can run out a strong 2000 metres in the Tulloch Stakes this weekend.
“Last time we had a run over 2000 metres we rushed him to it and backed him up the week after the Caulfield Guineas,” Moroney said.
“We drew out wide, he went forward, we put a lot of gear on him and he didn’t see it out.
“I think he was coming to the end of his campaign, so we weren’t really convinced that he doesn’t get 2000 metres or further.
“This race will tell because he is going into it with an ideal preparation and the horse is fit and well.”
Merion started his 2014 Melbourne Festival Of Racing campaign with a credible third behind Profit Share in the Hill Plate (1300m) at Sandown on February 7 and he performed well without ever looking like a winning chance in both the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on February 21 and the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at the same venue on March 7.
Moroney has been satisfied with the form of Merion this preparation and he believes that the slight drop back in class and the positive barrier draw gives him the best possible chance to return to winning form in the Tulloch Stakes.
“The barrier draw is a big help for him and he has finally drawn a gate, which will give us a good winning chance I think,” Moroney said.
“He has worked up to his best and he appears to get around well right-handed.
“We have just come back a little touch in grade and that draw will help him.
“I think there is going to be a little bit of speed and I think that he is going to be in the first five somewhere and getting a nice run behind them with a bit of cover.”
Merion is currently available at 2015 Australian Guineas odds of $11 with Ladbrokes, while Hauraki ($4.80) is a narrow favourite from Caped Crusader ($6), Ruling Dynasty ($6.50) and Diamond Valores ($6.50).