Three-year-old gelding Military Zone capped off...
Michael Moroney’s slow-maturing import Vengeur Masque finally broke his maiden status down under and now chases a Melbourne Cup start after winning the Geelong Cup 2017.
The son of Monsun has been with Moroney in Victoria since last spring, but until Wednesday’s Group 3 $300,000 Geelong Cup (2400m) had failed to salute in Australia.
It’s been a frustrating 12 or so months for the stable with a number of close calls including the devastatingly narrow second in this year’s Listed Mornington Cup (2400m) behind Tally.
“The nose defeat in the Mornington Cup after leading all-the-way was hard to take,” Moroney admitted post-win on Wednesday.
Vengeur Masque ran a competitive eighth behind Jameka as a $101 roughie in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, but Moroney opted not to target that race this time in.
Instead the Group 1 $6.2 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) has always been the dream at Flemington Racecourse on Tuesday November 7.
“We could have made the Caulfield Cup,” Moroney said.
“But we’ve really been keen on the Melbourne Cup this year.”
Vengeur Masque improved his claims of making the 24-starter Melbourne Cup field upsetting a number of better fancied chances as the $15 Geelong Cup winner in 2017.
For those gallopers that have made the line-up in the world’s richest handicap, the Geelong Cup form has held-up in the two mile classic plenty.
Last year the internationally-trained Geelong Cup winner Qewy finished fourth to Almandin in the Melbourne Cup results, while the double has recently been completed by the French-trained duo Americain (2010) and Dunaden (2011).
Before Vengeur Masque narrowly held-off the fast-finishing Geelong Cup favourite Gallic Chieftain (2nd) and Brent Stanley’s last start Caulfield winning four-year-old Violate (3rd), he sat 45th on the Melbourne Cup order of entry with just 50kg.
Moroney is now hoping Racing Victoria handicap Greg Carpenter penalises the horse for his Geelong Cup success and that a high attrition rate can get the horse into the ‘race that stops a nation’.
“Hopefully with a little bit more weight and attrition as well [he’ll make the Melbourne Cup field],” the Flemington-based horseman said.
“It was a very impressive win.
“He’s a real two miler.”
There is a chance that Vengeur Masque will back-up Saturday week at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day, chasing the Melbourne Cup ballot exemption on offer to the winner of the Group 3 $300,000 Lexus Stakes (2500m).
Vengeur Masque was the big improver in the Geelong Cup after a last start eighth when five lengths off the winner Amelie’s Star in Flemington’s Group 3 The Bart Cummings (2500m).
Moroney made a couple of crucial gear changes for Geelong Cup Day including the addition of ear muffs and it proved successful, the dour stayer finally switching off and relaxing in the run for regular rider Patrick Moloney.
“We’ve been tinkering with his gear and trying to get him to relax,” Moroney said.
“He’s been a slow-maturing horse…he’s only just really come of age.”
It was the Kiwi mare Lizzie L’Amour leading the Geelong Cup field around after crossing over from barrier nine to hit the front ahead of Vengeur Masque who travelled beautifully in second throughout.
Darren Weir’s top fancy Gallic Chieftain, last seen running third in the Group 2 Ladbrokes Herbert Power Stakes (2400m), meanwhile got tucked away in an awkward position worse than midfield.
Lizzie L’Amour led into the turn, but Vengeur Masque was quickly on her case moving up to take the lead 200m out from the line.
Vengeur Masque gave a lovely kick, but after switching back to the inside Gallic Chieftain was a late danger streaming up on the rails.
The favourite lunged late, but just missed out having to settle for second a half-head beaten, while Violate ran third ahead of last year’s runner-up Grey Lion who completed the First Four in the Geelong Cup results.
Pre-Geelong Cup Vengeur Masque was a $301 roughie shot in futures Melbourne Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au before being cut to a quote of $101.
Moroney won the 2000 Melbourne Cup in the race’s historically close finish with Brew, a horse Vengeur Masque reminds him of.
“He reminds me of and is a similar kind of horse as Brew,” Moroney said.
“He’s finally starting to get there.”
Moloney said he would see no issues with Vengeur Masque backing-up in the Lexus Stakes if they needed to go that path, but hoped it wouldn’t come to that.
“He’s really thriving,” Moloney said.
“He’s a highly strung import horse and he just thrives on his work.
“Hopefully we don’t have the scenario of having to back him up.
“Wouldn’t it be a thrill to ride in an Emirates Melbourne Cup.”
To back the Geelong Cup winner Vengeur Masque to win the Melbourne Cup at his triple-figure price head to Ladbrokes.com.au now.
2017 Geelong Cup Results & Finishing Order
Geelong Race 7 – 25/10/2017
|1||7||VENGEUR MASQUE (IRE)||Michael Moroney||Patrick Moloney||–||10||54kg||$15|
|2||4||GALLIC CHIEFTAIN (FR)||Darren Weir||Craig Williams||0.1L||2||55kg||$3F|
|3||10||VIOLATE||Brent Stanley||James Winks||0.85L||6||54kg||$17|
|4||5||GREY LION (IRE)||Matt Cumani||Luke Nolen||1.25L||8||54kg||$12|
|5||11||WHEAL LEISURE||Archie Alexander||Dean Yendall||1.35L||7||54kg||$6|
|6||8||KELLSTORM (IRE)||Darren Weir||Michael Dee||1.85L||1||54kg||$8|
|7||1||GALLANTE (IRE)||Robert Hickmott||Ms Katelyn Mallyon||3.85L||11||58kg||$26|
|8||6||FANATIC (NZ)||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Michael Walker||3.95L||3||54kg||$21|
|9||3||BERISHA||Robert Smerdon||Ryan Maloney||4.35L||12||56.5kg||$11|
|10||9||SETTLER’S STONE||Troy Blacker||Damien Oliver||4.55L||4||54kg (cd 54.5kg)||$19|
|11||2||LIZZIE L’AMOUR (NZ)||Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman||Mark Zahra||5.8L||9||57.5kg||$16|
|12||12||KAWABATA||Jamie Edwards||Ben Thompson (a)||6.8L||5||54kg||$101|
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