A step up to 3200m in the Queensland Cup has Michael Moroney’s camp confident Muirfield is a strong chance of breaking through at stakes level this weekend.
Moroney has always seen the five-year-old as a stakes contender – he’s had 11 starts in black-type races – but so far he has failed to really make an impact.
Muirfield’s best results in stakes grade are a third in the Group 3 Frank Packer Plate in 2011 and a runner-up finish in this year’s Warrnambool Cup.
But Moroney’s racing manager Anthony Feroce believes the extra distance on offer this weekend will help rather than hinder the gelding and said he is at the top of his game after a sixth-place finish in the Caloundra Cup last weekend.
“He has come through his last good run very well,” Feroce said on Moroney’s website.
“We have always thought that two miles would suit him.”
It will be by far the longest trip the son of Don Eduardo has attempted to date, with a sixth-place finish in January’s Bagot Handicap (2800m) the only other out-and-out staying test he has undertaken.
Muirfield will be out break a 16-month drought on Saturday, having not won since the Le Pine Funerals Handicap at Sandown in March 2012.
Rated a $7 chance in the Queensland Cup market, the New Zealand-bred galloper will have to overcome short-priced favourite Ibicenco ($2.40) in order to be successful.
The Peter Moody-trained stayer proved himself over 3200m when winning the Sandown Cup in November and has impressed in three lead-up runs.
Last seen running on fourth in the Group 3 Tatt’s Cup at Eagle Farm two weeks ago, the genuine stayer was a Group 1 runner-up in Germany and also finished second at Group 3 level in the UK.