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Aktau, Alburq and Chicago Cub ensured we ended the year on a high with a treble at Flemington on Saturday.

Mike Moroney admitted he didn’t know what to expect from Aktau on his Australian debut. He showed speed and was impressive in two jumpouts – showcasing that he had plenty of ability – but the son of Teofilo, bought as a replacement for Vengeur Masque, gave a glimpse of his future potential with a winning debut the Benchmark 84 Handicap over 1600m going away by three-quarters of a length.

Aktau (pictured) was sourced privately in England by Paul Moroney with a long term plan in mind.

“We needed a replacement for Vengeur Masque – we wanted to find another one like him and educate him,” Moroney said. “He is a long-term Melbourne Cup project.

“He surprised me today, I thought he would do it all wrong but he did it all right.

“All the riders I have had on him until today said he wanted to get on with it like an Oakleigh Plater. He can be quirky but we were warned that he was.

“He is still a good 12 months away, it would be nice for Vengeur Masque to run in one more Melbourne Cup and then run this guy the following year.”

Jye McNeil said Aktau drawing barrier three was one of the keys to him making a winning Aussie debut.

“He was just able to lob into a great position," McNeil said. “Michael was very thorough to me about making sure the horse had a good day out and did everything right.

“I’m not sure he expected him to go as well as he did. He did it like a big kid as well. He had a bit of a baulk at the post – there’s still more to come.”

Connections have some thinking to do with Alburq after the Rubick gelding fovercame a troubled passage to break his maiden in the Candy Cane Lane Plate (1200m) at Flemington.

Alburq was making a surge down the outside when he was almost stopped in his tracks when Can’t Be Done shifted out and caused interference.

However, Alburq and Michael Poy were brave and determined enough to regather and come again, scoring a narrow victory to savour his first win at his eighth start.

Moroney was thinking of to sending Alburq to the Gold Coast for the $242,500 Magic Millions Maiden Plate (1200m) on the rich Gold Coast raceday on January 11.

But, thanks to his Flemington win, Alburq is no longer eligible for that race.

There is now the option of the $2million Gold Coast Magic Millions 3YO Guineas (1400m) on the same day – but, not one to make a decision on raceday, Moroney will monitor the horse over the next 36 hours before making a decision.

“When he was asked to win today he quickened up like he was going to put them away and the next thing he ran out of room with a bit of interference from the inside and I thought for a moment he was going to be a very unlucky loser,” Moroney said.

“We will certainly give a bit of thought to whether we want to go up to the Guineas. We’ve already got Star Surprise up there for the race so we are in a nice position.

“It gets very hot up there, it’s a long trip and you are relying on planes getting up there.

“I will have a talk with the owners and we'll look at how he comes through the race then make a decision.”

Chicago Cub rounded out the day with a dominant win in the Benchmark 78 Handicap over 1200m, comfortably disposing of the opposition to score clearly.

The son of Zoustar was an unlucky loser last time out at Moonee Valley but with a trouble free run here made no mistake.

“That was pleasing for sure,” Moroney said. “He’s a horse we’ve always had a good opinion of and he got the job done in style today.

“He’s given us a few little headaches along the way but he’s a talented horses and I think there is still a bit of improvement in him. He’s done well to go this deep into a preparation but the the way he’s coped with it suggests to me he has the makings of a stakes class horse.

"To get a treble at Flemington is terrific and a great way to end the year. Everyone at home has worked hard for the owners and the horses so it's particularly pleasing to get results like this."

[21 Dec 19]


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