2014 Caulfield Guineas contender Merion has not had a race start for a month, but trainer Mike Moroney is confident that the promising gelding is at peak fitness for the Group 1 event at Caulfield on Saturday.
Merion started his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a promising performance in the Listed McKenzie Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on August 23 before he stamped himself as a genuine Caulfield Guineas contender when he upset Chivalry in the Listed Living Legends Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on September 13.
The O’Reilly gelding was set to contest the Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) on September 28, but Moroney elected to withdrawn the three-year-old due to the firmness of the track and not give him another run heading into the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m).
Moroney told Racing Ahead this morning that he has had previous success when spacing the runs of three-year-olds, when Monaco Consul won the 2009 Victoria Derby without running for a month, and he believes that he could not have Merion any better ahead of the Caulfield Guineas.
“I am very pleased,” Moroney said.
“We have a facility at Flemington that is probably second to none and it has been a really big help.
“I got Monaco Consul ready to run when it was a month between runs in the Spring Champion and the Derby being able to use the facilities there and I have done the same with Merion with a month between runs.
“I am really happy with the way that he is going and his work has been really good.
“I think that he is spot on for the mile.
“It is hard to be confident in Group 1s, but I know that we have our horse as well as we can get him and I think that he has real ability.
“It is just a matter if he can beat some of these other ones that are in the same boat.”
Merion has shown tactical versatility during his racing career to date and the three-year-old was one of the big winners at the Caulfield Guineas barrier draw on Tuesday after drawing barrier four.
Moroney believes that jockey Steven Arnold has plenty of options from the good draw, but is hoping that Merion will be able to take up a forward position in the early stages of the Caulfield Guineas this weekend.
“I think that there will be three and four that will go and I can see him sitting camped on them,” Moroney said.
“We don’t want to get too far back and we want to be able to use our barrier because it is a big plus that he has drawn one and he does have gate speed.”
Merion is currently available at 2014 Caulfield Guineas odds of $19 with Ladbrokes Australia, while Rich Enuff ($2.30) remains a clear favourite from Looks Like The Cat ($6.50), Shooting To Win ($7) and Almalad ($7.50).