Merion is yet to record a race win during his autumn preparation, but trainer Mike Moroney believes that the talented gelding is the horse to beat in the 2015 Frank Packer Plate this weekend.
Merion started his 2015 Autumn Racing Carnival campaign with a credible third in the Hill Plate (1300m) at Sandown on February 7 and he produced a string of good efforts without looking like a winning chance in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on February 21, the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at the same venue on March 7 and the Group 2 Tulloch Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 28.
The form coming out of the Tulloch Stakes has been strong, with winner Hauraki and runner-up Omeros both running well in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m), and Moroney told Racing Ahead that based on that form Merion is the horse to beat in the Frank Packer Plate, but may need a soft track to perform at his best.
“On form he has to be the one to because the two horses that beat him home the other day in Sydney went terrific in the Derby,” Moroney said.
“The form is very, very good, but he only just gets 2000 metres.
“I know that Steve (Arnold) thought he just struggled the last 100 metres and hopefully they do get that little bit of rain because I do think that he wants that genuine dead track.
“Last start they upgraded it and it wasn’t to his advantage at all, so we just hope that we get a dead to soft track and if we do that I am sure that he will run really well.
“He doesn’t disappoint and he is a horse that has never run a bad race, but bad barrier draws have plagued him a little bit.”
Merion will be having the fifth race start of his autumn campaign in the Frank Packer Plate, but Moroney confirmed that he will send the O’Reilly gelding for a 2015 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival campaign and is likely to set him for races like the Group 3 Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m) at Caloundra on May 16 and the Group 2 Queensland Guineas (1600m) at Doomben on Stradbroke Handicap Day.
“We are planning on going to Queensland and we will probably drop him back to a mile for the Queensland Guineas,” Moroney said.
“The plans at this stage are to run in the Sunshine Coast Guineas and the Queensland Guineas.”
Merion is currently available at 2015 Frank Packer Plate odds of $3.40 with Ladbrokes and is on the second line of betting behind Carbine Club Stakes winner Hi World ($3.10).