Trans-Tasman trainer Mike Moroney is strongly considering a tilt at the Gr.1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie on March 9 with imported stayer Vengeur Masque.
The son of Monsun was a strong winner of the Listed Torney Night Cup (2500m) at Moonee Valley last Friday and Moroney, who trains in partnership with Pam Gerard in New Zealand, believes the set weights and penalties conditions of the Auckland Cup would suit the seven-year-old stayer.
“After watching the Avondale Cup (Gr.2, 2400m) last weekend we are thinking there is not a lot of strength to the field, I know it’s hard to marry the form up,” Moroney said.
“You’ve got (Sir) Charles Road who we sort of know and on paper I would say he is the one to beat. He has the same weight as us (57kgs). He did beat us in the Melbourne Cup (Gr.1, 3200m) but we didn’t really handle the ground.
“I’ve just got a funny feeling he will be the top weight in the Adelaide Cup and might get 60kgs, so probably at set weights and penalties he is a long way better off.”
Moroney said the import surprised him with his win last Friday and even if he does travel to New Zealand, Vengeur Masque will also contest feature races during the Sydney Autumn Carnival.
“I still thought he might have been a half run away at Moonee Valley but he was aided by a really nice run in transit where he was on the fence the whole way and got a pretty soft run,” Moroney said.
“What I liked about it was it was the best turn of foot he has shown. He’s in great order having only had a very brief break because he ran in the Sandown Cup (Listed, 3200m) in November. He only had three weeks in the paddock and he packed the weight on quickly which is a good sign. He’s bright and things seem good with him.
“If we do head to Auckland we will fly from there to Sydney and probably go BMW (Gr.1, 2400m) into the Sydney Cup (Gr.1, 3200m).”
Moroney said he had a couple of options in terms of riders for the gelding.
“We know that Opie Bosson is available and he is keen to ride him. Patrick Moloney probably would go over and ride him and he does know the horse, but while he has ridden winners at Ellerslie for me, he hasn’t had a lot of practice around Ellerslie as compared to say Opie.
“It will be a decision I will let the owners make but those will be the two options we have got.”
Moroney, who recently notched his 50th Group One success as a trainer when On The Rocks was successful in the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) said the Auckland Cup was a race that had eluded him.
“It is one of two Group One races when I was there (New Zealand) that I haven’t won, the other being the Thorndon Mile where I got beaten a nose in one year.
“I was pretty luckless not to win the Auckland Cup with Second Coming, so it is a race that has gotten away on us and it’s always been one of the most important races on the calendar in New Zealand so it would be lovely to win it.”
Meanwhile, Moroney said On The Rocks was likely to contest the Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) before heading to Sydney.
“Everything is good with him, he is going to run in the weight for age and safely through that he will possibly come over for the Ranvet (Gr.1, 2000m),” Moroney said. – NZ Racing Desk