Trainer Mike Moroney included Merion in the nominations for both the 2014 Caulfield Guineas and 2014 Cox Plate and he believes that the undefeated gelding is the most promising three-year-old he has had in his stable for a long time.
Merion made his racing debut with a comfortable win in the First Light Racing Handicap (1300m) at Bendigo on March 27 and he made it two wins from as many starts when he defeated a strong field in the Listed Anzac Day Stakes (1410m) at Flemington on April 25.
Moroney told Racing Ahead this morning that Merion had taken plenty of benefit from his stint in the spelling paddock and he revealed that he could not be happier with the O’Reilly gelding ahead of the start of his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign.
“He is very good,” Moroney said.
“He had a jump out down the straight on Friday and he looks particularly well.
“He has grown, strengthened and I couldn’t be happier with him.
“Merion is probably one of the better three-year-old chances that I have had for a while I think going into the spring.
“He won his only two starts at two, he has gate speed and he has got stronger now.
“He is bred to get a bit of a trip if you go further back in his breeding and he has come back pretty relaxed, but I think that the main thing is that he is a big imposing bloke now with a lot of strength about him.
“He has really ticked every box so far and everything has gone to plane.
“He just strikes me as a pretty bomb-proof horse with any amount of talent.”
The Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 11 will be the major 2014 Spring Racing Carnival target for Merion, but Moroney said that connections are hoping that the three-year-old has the staying ability to press on to the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2400m) at Flemington on November 1.
“I think that he could be both,” Moroney said of Merion.
“I’m pretty sure he is going to be competitive enough to be a Guineas horse and whether or not he gets a Derby trip will be the question.
“We will just take it each race as a time, but at the moment the Caulfield Guineas is the main aim for him.”
Moroney is chasing his first win in the Caulfield Guineas, after previously missing the placings with Marwood (2013), Quarterbar (2010) and Tully Dane (2001), while he took out the Victoria Derby with Second Coming in 1997 and Monaco Consul in 2009.