Plenty Against Merion In Mackenzie Stakes

Trainer Mike Moroney has a very high opinion of Caulfield Guineas hopeful Merion, but he believes that there is plenty against the talented gelding in the Mackenzie Stakes at Moonee Valley on Saturday.

Steven Arnold has been booked to ride Merion in the Mackenzie Stakes at Moonee Valley this weekend.

Steven Arnold has been booked to ride Merion in the Mackenzie Stakes at Moonee Valley this weekend. Photo by: Race Horse Photos Australia

Merion will jump from the outside gate in the Mackenzie Stakes with the top-weight of 56 and a half kilograms on his back and he will be running at the tight-turning Moonee Valley circuit for the first time.

Moroney told Racing Ahead that he is going that jockey Steven Arnold will be able to settle Merion in a fair position in the early stages of the McKenzie Stakes and he admitted that he was keen to give the three-year-old an opportunity at Moonee Valley in case he stamped himself as a potential Cox Plate contender during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.

“I’ve just had a quick look and the speed horses look to be drawn out there with him a bit,” Moroney said.

“Hopefully he will get a nice drag across, but it is not anywhere near his grand final or anything and it is just a nice starting point.

“I would have liked to give him a bit of a look around the Valley as well because it is a pretty trick sort of track, so he has to sort of get away with that and the barrier draw.

“For that reason we want to have a bit of a look now because if he ends up as one of the better three-year-olds than it would be nice to think he is the right sort of horse for that.”

Merion stamped himself as a Caulfield Guineas contender with impressive wins in the First Light Racing Handicap (1300m) at Bendigo on March 27 and the Listed Anzac Day Stakes (1410m) at Flemington on April 25 and Moroney said last week that he believes the son of O’Reilly is one of the best three-year-olds he has trained for a long time, but believes that it is difficult to stack up the form in the Mackenzie Stakes this weekend.

“It is hard to know over 1200 metres at that track, but with luck in running we would be disappointed if he isn’t running home in the first three,” Moroney said.

“On paper it is pretty hard to gauge the early spring form and some of them are pretty lightly trialed and there are opinions on two or three of them in the race as well.

“We like our horse, he hasn’t done anything wrong at this stage and knowing that he is going to get better the further he goes.”

Merion is currently available at 2014 Mackenzie Stakes odds of $7; with Godolphin colt Orujo ($3.70) a clear favourite from debut winner Caveka ($5.50).

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Thomas Hackett

Thomas is a passionate and opinionated racing journalist and punter who has been obsessed with horse racing since he backed Saintly to win the 1996 Melbourne Cup. An international racing enthusiast, he has his finger on the pulse of racing news not just from Australia but all around the world.