Trainer Mike Moroney has revealed that the 2015 Australian Guineas will be the early autumn goal for talented gelding Merion.
Merion was touted as one of the leading chances for the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) at the start of his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign, but he did not have a great deal of luck during his spring preparation and recorded just one win from four starts before he was sent to the spelling paddock after he failed to fire in the Group 3 Caulfield Classic (2000m) at Caulfield on October 18.
Moroney said that Merion would return to his stable shortly to being preparations for the 2015 Melbourne Festival Of Racing and he has selected the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) that will be held at Flemington in March as the major target for the O’Reilly gelding; with the trainer ruling out a tilt at a race like the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m).
“We will probably restrict him back to a mile,” Moroney said.
“We might go to a mile and a quarter, but we wouldn’t go beyond that because I don’t think he is going to stay.
“He is just such a powerful muscular horse that I think has thrown more O’Reilly’s way and he has a bit of Danehill about him too.
“At this stage we will start off with his main aim as the Australian Guineas and then we will soldier on up to Sydney at some stage.
“He starts work next week, he has already had a month out and he is going to be up early enough to have a crack at some of these races.”
Merion made his racing debut with a win at Bendigo in March and he was sent to the spelling paddock after he scored an impressive win in the Listed Anzac Day Stakes (1410m) at Flemington on April 25.
The three-year-old started his spring preparation with a fourth place finish in the Listed McKenzie Stakes (1200m) and stamped himself as a genuine Caulfield Guineas contender when he upset Chivalry in the Listed Living Legends Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on September 13.
Moroney elected to scratch Merion from the Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) at Caulfield on September 28 due to concerns about the firmness of the track and he went into the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) without a run for a month, but was still able to finish a credible sixth after doing plenty of work in the early stages of the race.
Moroney is chasing his first win in the Australian Guineas after Jokers Wild finished third behind Miss Finland and Casino Prince in the 2007 edition of the race.