A capacity field of Stradbroke Handicap hopefuls...
With the countdown to Melbourne Cup Day well and truly on, Flemington trainer Michael Moroney is leading towards a 2017 Geelong Cup run this week despite a wide draw for his hopeful Vengeur Masque.
Monson six-year-old Vengeur Masque targets the Group 1 $6.2 million Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 7, but needs to win a qualifying race on the way to make the 24 starter field.
The import is currently 45th on the Melbourne Cup ballot order, something that can change should he win Wednesday’s Group 3 $300,000 Geelong Cup (2400m).
Vengeur Masque remains winless down under, his last win being at Compiegne in France back in June of 2015.
Since joining Moroney’s Victorian stables back in August last year, the gelding has had 11 runs without a win, his best finish being a devastatingly close second behind Tally in the Listed Mornington Cup (2400m) on March 25 this year.
In the Mornington Cup over the mile-and-a-half the gelding jumped from barrier one and came within a nostril flare of the winner.
In his three subsequent wide barriers have been his demise and he had no luck again drawing barrier 10 of 12 in the Geelong Cup field.
From barrier 15 of 15 on September 2 he ran ninth in the Listed Heatherlie Handicap (1700m), then had gate 10 of 15 when ninth behind Harlem, a 2017 Cox Plate rival to Winx this weekend, in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m).
Moroney last started the horse at Flemington on October 7 in the Group 3 The Bart Cummings (2500m), the winner Amelie’s Star gaining the Melbourne Cup run, while Vengeur Masque finished five lengths away eighth from barrier 7 of 10 after a fourth in the same race last year.
The latest Geelong Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au for the midweek feature list Vengeur Masque as a $21 outsider, Patrick Moloney retaining the ride, with markets led by the Darren Weir-trained Gallic Chieftain ($3.20).
Vengeur Masque also holds a nomination for Saturday’s Group 2 $300,000 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m) on Ladbrokes Cox Plate Day, but at this stage Moroney believes the Geelong Cup will be the go.
“We’re leaning towards running, I’ve got to check with the owners because I did tell them that I’d wait until we drew a decent barrier before I ran him again but we’re getting towards the sticky stage of qualifying for the Melbourne Cup so we might be forced to run him,” Moroney told the Geelong Advertiser on Monday.
“He went forward and led in the Mornington Cup and he just got beaten.
“Since then we’ve been trying to get him to relax and we’re going to put earmuffs on him for the first time in the Geelong Cup.
“He has worked with them all his life but we’ve never raced him in them even though I’ve always been tempted to do it.
“So we’ll see if that works, but he has just over raced in the spring, which is why he hasn’t quite run as well as he should have.
“He’s bred to stay and his best trip is a staying trip but we just need to get him to relax.
“We know that he relaxes when he’s left alone in front but if they take him on you don’t get things your own way all the time.
“So he needs to add another string to his bow.”
To back Vengeur Masque for an upset Geelong Cup result or to lock in his $201 roughie price in all-in Melbourne Cup 2017 odds head to Ladbrokes.com.au.
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