The Michael Moroney-trained three-year-old Nobel Park raced into calculations for the upcoming Queensland Derby after posting an eye-catching win at Flemington over the weekend.
Pins gelding Nobel Park backed up from their last-start victory over the mile at Sandown in April, able to overcome a wide barrier draw and hold on and score a gutsy half-neck victory in the $75,000 Schweppes Plate (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday.
“He’s still pretty new about the whole thing but he looks very promising,” Moroney said after the win on Saturday.
“It was a bit of an ask today and with the wide draw he got caught wide and had to soldier on with 58 kilograms on his back.”
Stepping up to 2000m for the first time, Nobel Park showed they had the ability to stretch out to the 2400m of the $500,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby at Eagle Farm’s Stradbroke Handicap Day on June 11.
Moroney is now assessing whether to run Nobel Park in the Queensland Derby and avoid the early spring carnival features that may come a little too soon for the gelding.
“He has got the frame there but probably hasn’t quite got the flesh there yet,” Moroney said.
“I know he’s not going to be easy to do for the spring as he doesn’t spell that well so we might be better off charging on (to the Queensland Derby).
“We have to consider everything and I will talk to the owners, but we need to make a quick decision as I think a plane (to Queensland) leaves on Tuesday.”
Purchased by Paul Moroney Bloodstock for $70,000 as a yearling, Noble Park has now won a fraction over that in prize money.
The bookies reacted accordingly after Nobel Park’s Flemington success, their third win from four career starts, slashing the early Queensland Derby odds on the galloper from $35 into $14.
Graeme Rogerson’s Duelled gelding Shootoff remains at the top of the Derby markets having won the $100,000 Lord Mayor’s Cup (1900m) at Canterbury on Saturday beating home the Les Bridge-trained Mr Clangtastic by nearly three lengths while Joseph Pride’s veteran Group 1 winner Vision And Power finished a close third.
“He’s going to the Derby for sure,” Rogerson’s Sydney foreman Roger Elliott said of Shootoff after Saturday’s win.
“He’s nominated for the Doomben Cup as well so whether he goes there first or goes straight to the Derby will be up to Graeme.”
The Group 1 Doomben Cup (2020m) is scheduled for May 21.
In a sad turn of events during the same race, the former Bart Cummings-trained seven-year-old Empire’s Choice broke down and had to be euthanized.
“He was a good horse – you don’t like to see them go like that,” Cummings said of Empire’s Choice.
Another promising three-year-old to recently show off their Queensland Derby credentials from Mike Moroney’s stables is Oratorio colt Quarterbar.
Despite having won just one of their nine career starts to date, three-year-old Quarterbar showed great form when running an eye-catching second to Break The Ice in an 1800m Class 3 event at Eagle Farm last week.
“I came here not knowing whether to aim for the Queensland Derby or the Queensland Guineas but he’ll definitely head for the Derby after this run,” Moroney said last Wednesday.
Quarterbar is a $51 roughie in the current Derby markets.