Trainer Mike Moroney has described his three year old Tivaci as a stronger horse as he heads towards the Group 1 $750,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Moroney also has no reservations about Tivaci handling the step back up to 1600m as he chases a hat trick of wins this preparation.
“He had one go at 1600m and one go at 1800m last time with mixed results but I think he is a stronger horse this time,” Moroney told racing.com.
Tivaci finished second over 1800m in the Listed $120,000 UCI Stakes (1800m) at Flemington on October 4 and then was beaten just under three lengths when fifth to Australian Guineas rival Mahuta in the Group 3 $200,000 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on October 31.
The High Chaparral colt then resumed from a spell to win first up in a 1200m BenchMark 70 Handicap at Pakenham on February 4 and then went on to win on protest in the Group 3 $150,000 C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on February 20.
Tivaci was second past the post behind the Darren Weir trained Palentino and Craig Williams was successful with his protest bid after Palentino was deemed by Racing Victoria stewards to have caused him sufficient interference at the 900m to reverse the placings.
Moroney is happy with the progress of Tivaci since his last start win and said he worked well with race jockey Nick Hall in the saddle at Flemington this morning.
“Tivaci went very very well here. Had a nice hit out on the grass and appeared to work up to his best,” Moroney said.
“He (Nick Hall) came in and galloped him.”
Moroney could have two runners in the Australian Guineas with the Melbourne Cup winning trainer accepting with Tulsa at both Flemington and also in the Group 1 $1m Girvan Waugh Randwick Guineas (1600m) at Randwick also on Saturday.
Moroney had no luck at the barrier for the Australian Guineas with Tivaci coming up with gate thirteen while Tulsa draw even wider at fifteen in the sixteen horse field.
Tulsa was better treated in the Randwick Guineas with barrier six in the thirteen horse field and Steven Arnold has been booked to ride at both venues.
Moroney was also happy with the progress of Tulsa since his last start third to his stablemate in the C S Hayes Stakes but was reluctant to split them if they clash on the weekend.
“I think that they have both improved and Tulsa has really gone the right way,” Moroney said.
“In between runs last time he (Tulsa) wasn’t eating that flash but he has really eating well since. We have the rest of the week to go. I am really happy with him as well.”
Moroney is looking forward to a very competitive contest in the Australian Guineas and found it hard to single one three year old as the hardest to beat.
“It is going to be a very good field. It is going to be a pretty even lot,” Moroney said.
“If the New Zealand horse brings his right form over. He looks pretty exciting. And you have the horse that was put back behind us (Palentino), he is on the improve as well. You’ve got Mahuta.”
“It is going to be a strong race. It’s a pretty even lot.”
Group 1 winning Kiwi colt Xtravagant is at the top of the Australian Guineas market order at Ladbrokes.com.au at $3.70 while Tivaci is marked at $14 ahead Tulsa at $19.
Australian Guineas market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.70 Xtravagant, $7 Palentino, $7.50 Tarzino, $9 Mahuta, $10 Perfect Reflection, $14 Tivaci, $15 Risque, $17 Jameka, $19 Tulsa, $21 River Wild, $26 Vanburgh, Sovereign Nation, $31 Sailing By, $41 Bon Aurum, Ready For Victory, $51 Snoopy.