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Flemington trainer Michael Moroney admits he is in unchartered waters with triple Group One winning mare Tofane, who is set to contest the Gr.1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) fresh-up at Caulfield on Saturday.

The New Zealand-bred daughter of Ocean Park has never won first-up in five attempts but has had a shorter break than usual following a fruitful Queensland campaign that netted Group One wins in the Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) and Tatt’s Tiara (1400m).

“Getting her ready to go 1400m off a short break has been a bit different,” Moroney said.

“She has usually had long breaks and at times we have only given her one jumpout and gone to 1000m first-up.

“This time she has had two jumpouts and I have done a bit of work with her in between. She has some residual fitness from her Queensland campaign and she is already there in the coat and looks great.

“We know that her first-up record is not that good, but this is a totally different scenario and it is going to be of interest.”

Moroney takes great heart from jockey Craig Williams electing to partner the high-class six-year-old, given he had the option to ride key rival Behemoth.

Never tried beyond 1400m, Tofane is likely to be stretched in distance this campaign and holds a nomination for the Gr.1 Cox Plate (2040m).

Moroney will also saddle former Kiwi gallopers Nerve Not Verve and Milford at Caulfield on Saturday, with the pair at opposite ends of their preparations.

Six-year-old mare Nerve Not Verve is starting to fulfil her staying potential, with the half-sister by Shocking to Auckland Cup winner Glory Days, set to contest a 2400m handicap after running well for third over 2500m at Moonee Valley last week.

“I have always wanted to get her out in trip as she is really bred to stay,” Moroney said.

“This is possibly her last run this time around, because I do think she is up to black-type next preparation.

“She was narrowly beaten in the Centaurea (Listed 2030m) and since then things haven’t quite gone her way.

“I think next time back in, now that we know she will run-up to her breeding and get a mile and a half, she is a good chance of getting that bold black type.”

Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) placegetter Milford steps out for the first time for Moroney, with the son of Savabeel fresh-up over 1400m.

Previously with Stephen Marsh, Milford has been gelded since two below par efforts in Sydney in the autumn.

“He’s a well credentialed horse. I saw him in Sydney and he was pretty colty and hence he was taken home to New Zealand and gelded,” Moroney said.

“His work has been good and his trials have been really good. We are going to take the blinkers off him and start from scratch a wee bit. He meets a pretty tough field on Saturday but has drawn nicely (5) and it wouldn’t surprise me if he ran really well.”

The four-year-old is nominated for all of the spring majors including the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).

“As to whether he gets that sort of trip, I’m not sure. He is bred to be a mile and a quarter horse more than a Cup horse, but that is something we will find out this preparation,” Moroney said.

Meanwhile, recent recruit Not An Option, who has transferred from Cambridge trainer Tony Pike, has pleased since arriving with Moroney.

“Not An Option went really well in his jumpout last week. He has only had a short break, a little bit like Tofane,” Moroney said.

“He is lovely as a colt to handle. He has settled into his new environment really well. He will probably be seen in a fortnight’s time over 1400m.

“He is a bit of an awkward one given that he is just off being able to make the field for some of the stakes races, given he is not that highly rated.

“There is a Listed race for him (The Sofitel) and if he doesn’t make the field, we’d look at a ratings race at Sandown.

“He looks a nice horse and I am really happy with the way he is going.” – NZ Racing Desk, image: Grant Peters Trackside Photography

[27 Aug 21]


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