While a host of hopeful three-year-olds kick off their Caulfield Guineas 2014 campaigns on PB Lawrence Stakes Day in Melbourne this weekend, Michael Moroney will wait until next Saturday to launch the new season of his Guineas chance Merion.
Undefeated O’Reilly gelding Merion will make his three-year-old debut at Moonee Valley Racecourse on August 23 with his Flemington-based trainer Moroney locking in a first-up run in the $120,000 Listed Essendon Mitchell McKenzie Stakes (1200m).
He was earmarked for the race on Friday morning after impressing Moroney with a nice gallop at Flemington when finishing just a length off speedy mare Minaj over 800m down Victoria’s premier straight course.
That was the second jumpout at home for Merion who looks race fit and ready to go even though the distance of the Mitchell McKenzie will be short of their preferred.
“The 1200 metres might be a bit short for him, but we’ll kick him off there anyway,” Moroney said on Friday. “It’s a starting point.
“He trialled well enough today. I know (jockey) Steve (Arnold) thinks that he’s getting a bit more dour than he was as a two-year-old, so once he gets to 1400 or further he‘ll be more competitive, but we’ll kick him off 1200.
“He’s furnished and grown a lot between campaigns, so we’re really happy with where he’s at at this stage.”
He will go into Saturday week’s race with a flawless two-from-two record to date after starting their career in the best way possible during the Melbourne Festival of Racing.
A win on debut at Bendigo over 1300m was followed a month later at Flemington on April 25 where the then juvenile put half a length on Light Up Manhattan despite early interference in the Listed ANZAC Day Stakes (1410m).
Showing plenty of promise as a genuine 1600 – 2400m type, Merion then will target the $1 million Group 1 BECK Caulfield Guineas (1600m) this spring on October 11.
Between the McKenzie and the Guineas is the $175,000 Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) on Sunday September 28 that Moroney is also looking at.
“He’ll more than likely go to the Guineas Prelude because I’d like to give him a look at Caulfield before the Guineas,” he said.
Early Caulfield Guineas odds at Ladbrokes.com.au has him at $26 to win in markets led by Almalad and Brazen Beau, who ran one-two in the Group 1 JJ Atkins (1600m) in Brisbane during the winter, as co-$9 favourites.
Merion is also nominated for the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) on October 25 at Moonee Valley, the weight-for-age classic won by a three-year-old last year with Shamus Award the first maiden in history to take it out.
The 2014 Cox Plate though is far from a confirmed target for Moroney’s up-and-comer who pays $67 to win.
Also on the cards could be a step right up to 2500m for the $1 million Group 1 Victoria Derby on November 1 at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Moroney though is solely focused on the Caulfield Guineas right now.
To back Merion first-up next weekend, and access all the futures Group 1 racing markets for the coming months head to Ladbrokes.com.au where your first deposit will be matched by the house up to $250 as a bonus bet to kick things off!