Lining up for without doubt his toughest task to date at Flemington Racecourse this afternoon, exciting three-year-old Merion has well and truly risen to the occasion, displaying a keen turn of foot to win the Listed Living Legends Stakes (1400m) in a photo finish.
Jumping from the gates well, the O’reilly gelding settled well within the pack of 12, allowing early leaders Turfane, Zululand and Forgive And Forget to set a reasonable tempo over the back straight and rounding the bend.
Finding the final straight with still plenty to do, Merion steadily spooled up and approached the leaders, pulling clear and sustaining a good enough sprint to beat clear favourite Chivalry in a photo finish; Zebulon running on for third.
Trainer Mike Moroney was understandably pleased with Merion performance for victory in the 2014 Living Legends Stakes, underlining the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 11th as the likely major target this time in.
“It was a fork in the road for him today; a really smart horse and we always knew we had a really smart horse,” Moroney said following the race.
“Still hasn’t quite turned the coat yet and he’s still got a lot of improvement in him, but a really seriously good horse.
“First thoughts are we were always sort of here to run in the Guineas, and I’ll have a talk with Steve and that but first thought are we’ll head there.”
Jockey Steve Arnold delivered a perfectly-timed ride on Merion in the 2014 Living Legends Stakes, believing the best is still yet to come for his classy partner this time in.
“I was really happy with his demeanour today, he was really relaxed,” Arnold said whilst still mounted on Merion.
“He can get a little bit hot early but he was nice and relaxed and did everything beautifully, got into a good spot, came out and he stays on well.
“I rolled forward a bit and was able to come back and get into a pretty nice spot.
“He’s still learning, but he’s got nice ability.”
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2014 Living Legends Stakes Results
|1||3||MERION (NZ)||Michael Moroney||Steven Arnold||–||7||57kg||$14|
|2||2||CHIVALRY||Mark Kavanagh||Glen Boss||0.1L||8||58kg||$2.90F|
|3||5||ZEBULON (NZ)||Peter Morgan & Craig Widdison||Stephen Baster||1.1L||11||56kg||$8|
|4||4||MOONOVERMANHATTAN||Mick Price||Craig Newitt||1.2L||2||57kg||$41|
|5||7||SILENT WHISPER||Lloyd Kennewell||Mark Zahra||2.7L||9||56kg||$19|
|6||9||FAST CASH||Wendy Kelly||Daniel Moor||2.9L||3||56kg||$8.50|
|7||1||ZULULAND||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Craig Williams||3L||6||58kg||$9.50|
|8||8||TURFANE||Saab Hasan||Damian Lane||5.5L||5||56kg||$31|
|9||6||FORGIVE AND FORGET||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Michael Walker||5.7L||12||56kg||$14|
|10||11||DIVAN (NZ)||Robert Hickmott||Chad Schofield||6.95L||10||56kg||$11|
|11||12||AAGAS||Todd Balfour||Adam McCabe||7.7L||4||56kg||$301|
|12||10||RAPOSO (NZ)||Patrick Payne||Michael Rodd||8.45L||1||56kg||$12|