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Bright Future Predicted for Merion

Twelve months ago Caulfield Guineas winner Long John – favourite for this weekend’s UAE Derby – won his first start in a Bendigo 2Y0 event – by 1¼ lengths.

On Wednesday Merion won the same race by the same impressive margin and whilst it is a long way to Group One glory we are hoping that he too has a bright future.

Settling midfield wide but with cover, Merion (pictured as a yearling) made his run from the 400m – making up some ground to the 200m before hitting the lead at the 100m, racing a little greenly but sprinting clear.

Nominated for next month’s Group One ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes, Merion has always been well regarded and Matt Hoysted was excited by the victory.

“Mike has always liked the horse,” he said, adding that “we thought we would give him a nice soft kill first up.”

“He was very impressive, he could be a stakes horse.”

Moroney agreed – “he did a bit wrong but he was just too good.”

Jockey Steven Arnold noted that Merion may have won by an even greater margin if not for the slow going – “he was probably not 100% in the ground, but he will come on from that,” he said.

“There is plenty of improvement in him as he is a really nice horse.”

A $200,000 Karaka purchase for Paul Moroney, Merion was bred by Valachi Downs’ Kevin Hickman who is enjoying a good run as owner/breeder of last weekend’s Group One winner Silent Achiever.

Like that Ranvet Stakes winner, Merion is by champion NZ based stallion O’Reilly – and he is the third live foal produced by the Listed winner Sapphire Belle.

Also dam of the NZ winner Pearle Lustre, Sapphire Belle is out of a full sister to the four times Group One winner Alibhai.

Merion is part of a good run for Ballymore Stables and we are hoping there is plenty to come over the autumn carnival with Voleuse de Coeurs shaping extremely well in preparation for her Sydney sojourn.

With the Group One BMW and Sydney Cup her aims, Voleuse de Coeurs is due to gallop in between races at Moonee Valley on Saturday before heading to Sydney next week.

“She looks better than she did in the spring,” Moroney reported, “and she is a very happy horse.”

Meanwhile we have a busy weekend ahead, kicking off at Cranbourne on Friday evening where we saddle up three runners.

Jemerica in the fifth race, the Procon Developments F&M 0 - 64 Handicap – is the first of those and we are pleased that there has been rain about.

“It looks a very winnable race for her,” said Moroney, noting that “she has been going really well and has just been waiting for some rain.”

Present Arms contests the following race, the Browns Sawdust & Shavings Showcase BM78 Handicap and he too will appreciate the sting out of the ground.

“He will probably want to go further than the 2025m but he is going very well,” Moroney said – referring to Present Arms’ consistent form including a last start fourth at Sandown.

The third of our Cranbourne trio is promising filly Suspicious Minds who, on the back of good NZ form, makes her Australian debut in the Trios After the Last 0 - 64 Handicap.

“She is a really nice filly,” Moroney enthused, describing the daughter of Alamosa as “one of the better three-year-old fillies in New Zealand.”

“She is not an overly robust filly so hopefully the rain will help her. And she does have a fair amount of ability so it would be no surprise to see her win.”

On Saturday we head to Moonee Valley with talented mare Octavia.

Resuming in the Health Planning Consultants Handicap, Octavia – who usually comes to hand quickly – has pleased us this time in.

“She has performed really well in a couple of jump-outs here,” Moroney said.

“She has a tricky gate to contend with in a pretty good mares race but she is terrific shape.”

Saint Or Sinner, who has had a slight set-back since his gutsy Flemington victory four weeks ago races at Morphettville on Saturday.

He has been working well and looks nicely placed in the Adelaide Galvanizing Handicap with Dom Tourneur to ride and he should once again “prove hard to beat.”

Sunday is a quiet day for the stable with just the one runner but we are expecting a bold showing from debutant Solomon’s Bolt at Seymour.

“He is a really nice horse, probably one of our better three-year-olds. We have a pretty high opinion of him.”

The son of New Approach is, however still a little green – “he has a bit to learn and it is just a matter of him doing everything right,” Moroney said.

[28 Mar 14]

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