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In-form Melbourne-trained three-year-old Top Of The Range could be Brisbane-bound this winter with horseman Michael Moroney looking at a Queensland Derby 2017 bid with his Easter Monday winner.
Young Savabeel gelding enjoyed a second career win at Ladbrokes Park when stepping up to a mile for the first time in the Chef’s Hat South Melbourne Handicap (1600m).
Patrick Moloney retained the ride having ridden Top Of The Range for his breakthrough win the start before over 1400m at Pakenham on March 23, which was a notable improvement off the youngster’s dead last (11th) on debut at Sandown-Hillside in late August.
Top Of The Range narrowly beat home the Mick Price-trained Netherfield in Monday’s Benchmark 70 Handicap for three-year-olds, earning talks of a Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival campaign in the coming months.
Should Moroney head to up to the Sunshine State, he confirmed the key target for his progressive staying type would be the $600,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm on Stradbroke Handicap Day (June 10).
“One of the reasons we may do that is that a trip away just might make the horse,” Moroney told AAP.
“Because he’s got to grow up quickly by the time he turns four to take on the older horses.”
Moroney has saddled up a dozen starters in the Queensland Derby over the past three decades for just the one second place finish.
Current favourite in pre-nomination Queensland Derby betting at bookies around the country is the New Zealand-trained ATC Derby winner Jon Snow.
Also in the mix are the likes of fellow Kiwis Gingernuts and Mongolian Wolf who have both also enjoyed Sydney wins over the autumn in the Rosehill Guineas and Frank Packer Plate respectively.
The recent Australian Bloodstock-purchased Mongolian Wolf is now prepared in Victoria by Darren Weir and posted a win in the Group 3 Frank Packer Plate (2000m) on Easter Saturday at Royal Randwick in his first run down under.
“He’ll be a great Queensland Derby horse. The way he won today you’d have to say he’s on track for that,” Weir said of the Pluck gelding, formerly prepared by Murray Baker, post-win on Saturday.
The 2017 Queensland Derby nominations close on May 3 followed by first acceptances on May 31 and the final field on June 7.
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