Victorian trainer Michael Moroney is doubling his chances of claiming back-to-back titles in Saturday’s Listed $200,000 Caloundra Cup (2400m) at the Sunshine Coast.
The dual-pronged assault is headed by favourite and defending champion Shenzhou Steeds who will be joined by outside hope Muirfield.
On face value, Shenzhou Steeds is certainly the one to beat, with a flawless record at the track and a strong last-start second in the Tatt’s Cup playing heavily into his favour.
The five-year-old has found the winner’s stall in three trips to the Sunshine Coast including a dominant seven-length win in last year’s feature race.
That win came on a heavy track and some late week rain in Queensland could see the Caloundra Cup again run in favourable conditions.
Regular rider Eddie Wilkinson returns to chase a second straight win aboard the Ishiguru gelding but has warned not to write off Muirfield after riding him to a seventh-place finish in the Ipswich Cup two weeks ago.
“A few things went against him but overall I thought he ran well…he was a little bit lost around Ipswich but his last 150m was good once he got balanced up and into the clear,” Wilkinson said on Moroney’s website.
At $31, Moroney’s second stringer is only an outside hope but will appreciate if the race again takes place on a rain-affected surface.
Brisbane rider Ric McMahon will partner the five-year-old who is chasing his first victory since March last year.
Moroney will also chase Sunshine Coast Guineas success with three-year-old gelding Saint Or Sinner who will need to turn around his form after finishing ninth in the Daybreak Lover at Eagle Farm earlier this month.
Shenzhou Steeds delivered Moroney success in the three-year-old race in 2011.