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The Villiers Stakes in Sydney on Saturday could serve as the ideal lead-up for the Michael Moroney-trained Loyalty Man into next month’s 2017 Magic Millions Cup on the Gold Coast.
Moroney’s four-year-old son of Fastnet Rock is one of 23 milers nominated for the $250,000 Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick this weekend.
The handicap clash is not the only event Loyalty Man is entered for on Saturday however, Moroney also putting in a nomination for a Benchmark 85 Handicap on Villiers Stakes Day as well as a handicap clash at Flemington at home.
“We’ll likely pay up for all three races and then see where he draws and make a decision on Wednesday,” Moroney told Racing Victoria.
It is shaping up as a tough edition of the Villiers Stakes with a smart line-up of possible runners including the John O’Shea-trained ATC Cup winner Malice, local hope Hopfgarten, his last start conqueror in the Tattersall’s Recognition Stakes Cylinder Beach and the in-form Fabrizio.
Should he line-up in the Villiers Stakes field Loyalty Man will carry the 53kg minimum, while in the other mile handicap at Randwick he is allocated a hefty 61kg.
In the Flemington event, also contested over 1600m, the horse is allocated 54kg as he attempts a fifth win from seven starts at his pet distance.
Moroney is leaning towards the trip to Sydney believing the Villiers Stakes would serve as the perfect lead-up to the $1 million Magic Millions Cup (1400m) at the Gold Coast Racecourse in Queensland on January 14.
“I’m keen on going to Sydney with him, mainly because we’re also keen on heading to the Magic Millions with him,” he said.
He is concerned about finding a jockey to ride Loyalty Man on the light weight in the race, naming Patrick Moloney as a possible option.
“A problem we’ve got is finding a jockey to ride him at 53kg and we’re tossing up the idea of sending Patrick Moloney up there to ride him,” Moroney said.
Moloney has been aboard the gelding for his four latest runs including his latest win on November 25 in the Wodonga Cup (1590m).
Moroney was pleased with his horse’s last start win and Tuesday work the right-handed way at Flemington, but said the narrow winning margin at Wodonga left a bit to be desired.
“I’m really pleased with the horse. He was luckless at Flemington and then won at Wodonga but he just seems to have got back to his old tricks,” he said.
“He was going to win by four or five lengths last start and then he wanted to pull up and do everything all wrong so hopefully he can iron that out.
“He’s done a lot of work here at Flemington right-handed and appears to handle galloping in the opposite direction really well.
“Patrick actually said the horse felt better galloping right-handed than he does working normally left-handed so hopefully he can reproduce that on race day.”
In the latest all-in Villiers Stakes 2016 odds Loyalty Man is listed as a $15 chance through Ladbrokes.com.au.
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