Melbourne-based New Zealand expat Michael Moroney is banking on last year’s Caulfield Guineas lead-up form to hold again in 2014 as he attempts to win the three-year-olds’ classic this spring with the undefeated Merion.
Last year the Peter Snowden-trained Street Cry gelding Long John kicked off their career with three straight autumn wins before progressing on to win the $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) that October.
O’Reilly gelding Merion has already won two of those same races that produced Long John.
The first was a debut victory over 1300m at Bendigo in late March followed by their half-length victory over Light Up Manhattan in the Listed ANZAC Day Stakes (1410m) at Flemington on April 25.
“He’s won his only two, he won that Listed Anzac Day Stakes and he won the same two races that the horse that won the Caulfield Guineas last year did,” Moroney told Racing Victoria.
Moroney is now planning the new season comeback for the rising three-year-old this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival with a number of options on the cards after a likely jumpout next month.
“He’s been in work about six weeks more or less and about three-weeks from a jumpout,” Moroney said.
“I might kick off at Moonee Valley in a stakes race there; I’d like to give him a bit of a look at the Valley too.
“It just looks a nice start for him it will either be there or the 1400m the week after at Flemington, it will be one of the two anyway.”
He’s hoping their early season form sees them emerge as a genuine Caulfield Guineas type, everything he’s seen in their recent work suggesting they can live up to their potential.
“He’s back been in work for a little while, he’s our main three year-old, and he’s on a Guineas campaign,” Moroney said.
“We put him in the paddock briefly just gave him four weeks in the paddock more or less.
“He grew, put on nice weight, grew a little bit he’s a lovely horses, I‘d say he’s put on 25kgs while he was out and he’s continued to do well inside the stable.
“I think he’s grown a little bit more he’s got some nice size about him he’s a lovely type of horse he’s close to 16 hands.”
Moroney saddled up another son of O’Reilly in last year’s Caulfield Guineas with Marwood, a narrow first-up winner at Seymour last Saturday, who could only manage to finish a distant 13th when beating home just one other runner.
“He ended up leading which is not like him, he over raced and got flattened turning for home so things didn’t go his way at all,” Moroney said of the lightly raced New Zealand-bred galloper.
“We’ve always thought that he was a group horse we just have to take it a step at a time now with him.
“He’s had a wind operation so whether they come back as good you don’t know.
“He’s always had a good amount of talent, hopefully he can fulfil that a little bit, knowing that after a wind operation they are never 100%.”
If all goes to plan meanwhile and Merion runs well over the mile in the Guineas then Moroney said they would also be entered for the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25.
“He’ll also be nominated for the Cox Plate, he’ll definitely be nominated,” he confirmed.
Long John also ran in the Cox Plate but could only manage to run ninth behind fellow three-year-old Shamus Award before heading overseas to race for Godolphin.
Caulfield Guineas betting markets are already open at bookmakers around the country ahead of the nominations with Gai Waterhouse’s JJ Atkins winner Almalad leading the way.