Flemington-based trainer Michael Moroney will saddle up a two-pronged raid on this weekend’s Caloundra Cup with Viking Hero and Tinseltown set to face off in the feature race of the final Queensland Winter Racing Carnival meeting.
Twelve months ago Moroney was at Caloundra with his Pentire gelding Tinseltown, who after being forced to race wide throughout, produced a fast-finishing effort to run second beaten just a quarter of a length by Ironstein in last year’s Caloundra Cup.
This year Moroney will give rising eight-year-old Tinseltown another shot in the $200,000 Listed Caloundra Cup (2400m), the galloper joined by their very promising stablemate, Elvstoem four-year-old Viking Hero.
The duo are the equal $7.50 second favourites in this year’s Caloundra Cup markets that are lead by last-start Ipswich Cup winner Gold In Dubai ($4), another Victorian raider.
After falling in April’s Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) on a bog Randwick track, Tinseltown resumed on May 28 with an eye-catching second to Shuffle The Cash in the Group 3 Premier’s Cup (2200m) at Doomben.
“He copped a bit of bruising from the (Sydney Cup) fall but other than that he came out of it okay,” Moroney said.
Last start they were less impressive when five lengths away sixth to winner Tullamore in the Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2400m) at Eagle Farm on June 11, but Moroney hopes at Caloundra from their ideal barrier four draw they will be competitive.
“He’s in similar form to last year when I thought he was unlucky not to win the Caloundra Cup,” Moroney said.
“Damien Oliver rode him last year but he was caught wide on him throughout.
“I’m happy with his form up here.
“He hit the line well when second in the Premier’s Cup and he got into a skirmish and was caught three wide in the Brisbane Cup.”
Viking Hero has come up with the inside alley of the 14-horse Caloundra Cup field and is set to be ridden by Melbourne Cup-winning hoop Chris Munce.
While on paper barrier one looks good, the Caloundra track is currently rated a Slow (6) and with more rain set to fall before Saturday, Munce may find himself looking to get to the middle of the field with Viking Hero.
In an attempt to give the galloper a boost and help them find some extra pace in their Caloundra Cup run, Moroney will remove blinkers from their gear.
“I’m going to remove the blinkers on him this time hoping it’ll improve his attitude,” Moroney said.
A multiple Group performer, Viking Hero has been in and out of form this prep.
After a brilliant second beaten by a mere nose in the Group 3 Chairman’s Handicap (2020m) at Doomben on May 14 by Humma, at their next start Viking Hero suffered a bad check in the Premier’s Cup and was beaten over 20 lengths when finishing 14th of 16 runners.
Third-up they were again well beaten when seven lengths away ninth in the Brisbane Cup, but last Saturday Viking Hero showed promise with a credible fourth to last year’s Caloundra Cup winner Ironstein in the Group 3 Tatt’s Cup (2200m) at Eagle Farm.
Chad Ormsby was aboard Viking Hero for the Tatt’s Cup, but will swap stablemates riding Tinseltown this Saturday.
Despite Viking Hero’s claims of a Caloundra Cup upset, Moroney still believes Tinseltown has the advantage and will be hard to beat.
“Viking Hero got a gorgeous run in the Tatt’s Cup but overall was slightly disappointing,” Moroney said.
“He got beaten a fair margin (four lengths) and I was disappointed he couldn’t run past Little Stranger (third placegetter) who he stalked throughout the race.”
Regardless of their Caloundra Cup performance, Moroney said he was likely to send Viking Hero to the spelling paddock for a break before the spring.
“I’d say he’ll be going for a spell no matter where he runs,” he said.
The only question over Tinseltown for the Caloundra Cup according to Moroney is their equal 57kg top-weight with Gold In Dubai, which is a rise of 1kg to what they carried to second place last year.
“It’s a disappointing weight really,” a mystified Moroney said.
“He’s won only one race in 12 months and that was at Pukekohe.”
After tipping Tinseltown to beat Viking Hero on Saturday, Moroney then named the veteran’s next-up target as the $150,000 Listed Queensland Cup (3200m) at Eagle Farm on July 9.
“He’s the best of my two chances and at this stage he’ll back up in the Queensland Cup next week,” he said.