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Mike Moroney considers Makybe Diva Stakes as spring opener for Shenzhou Steeds

Bart Sinclair, The Courier-Mail

SHENZHOU Steeds, the staying find of the Queensland winter carnival, will open his spring campaign at Flemington on Saturday.

Trainer Mike Moroney originally was reluctant to have a shot at the spring carnival with the emerging Shenzhou Steeds despite his superb winter form.

The late-developing five-year-old came off an average Caulfield sixth in late May to win the Ipswich Cup on June 16 and follow up a fortnight later with a stunning seven lengths romp in the Caloundra Cup.

Shenzhou Steeds is to resume in the 1600m Makybe Diva Stakes. Eddie Wilkinson, who won the two Cups in Queensland on Shenzhou Steeds, has been retained for the ride this week.

"He didn't beat much at Caloundra but he has a few things against him and the margin was terrific so we were ecstatic with that effort," Moroney said.

"He had a few things against him. He went up 4kg in weight, it was an extremely heavy track and had never been to 2400m before.

"I wasn't sure whether he could cope physically with getting into the spring but he has become stronger with the trip to Queensland and a short break.

"He had some residual fitness when he arrived back in Melbourne and is ready to go to the 1600m this week."

Moroney is entertaining an idea to set Shenzhou Steeds for the Naturalism Stakes at Caulfield on September 22 as his "test" race for the Caulfield Cup.

"We figure Shenzhou Steeds is going to be weighted around 52kg for the Caulfield Cup. That would make him borderline to get into the field," he said.

"The Naturalism winner is exempt from the ballot for the Caulfield Cup."

European stayer Drunken Sailor will open his Melbourne Cup program in the 1800m Underwood Stakes in three weeks.

Moroney was happy with the eight-year-old's first campaign for him in the autumn when he finished second in the Adelaide Cup and third in The BMW at Rosehill.

He is hopeful the South Australian Oaks runner-up Crimson Lady can take a big step forward this spring.

"My biggest hopes for the spring are some of my lightly raced three-year-olds. But Shenzhou Steeds might surprise a few. We'll know more after Saturday," Moroney said.
[04 Sep 12]

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