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Anzac Day Double

Anzac Day was a great one for the stable – a Flemington double.

And both wins were recorded by highly promising horses, the unbeaten two-year-old Merion (pictured) and the talented four-year-old Rhythm To Spare.
Having impressed when saluting at his Bendigo debut in late March, Merion was again strongly fancied by the stable with the bay always regarded amongst the best of our youngsters.

“He is a lovely horse with his fair share of ability,” Michael Moroney said after Merion overcame trouble in running to win the Listed Anzac Day Stakes by a soft half length.

Held up until late, Merion showed plenty of heart to take the splits and find the line as well as he did.

“He got stopped in his tracks but he showed a quick turn of foot,” said Moroney who is excited about Merion’s prospects as a three-year-old.

Jockey Steven Arnold – who was also aboard Merion at his first start – told connections that “the field bunched up at the turn and I just had to wait for a bit of luck late.”

Fortunately it came although it takes a good horse to take such a gap and still charge to the line in such style.

“He was good enough to quicken through,” Arnold said – “he was impressive.”

Arnold, who has ridden Merion in jump-outs at home, has always thought highly of the son of O’Reilly.

“He told us that he compares favourably at the same stage of his career with Long John,” Moroney said – noting that Merion’s first two wins have come in the same races in which Long John, who went onto a Caulfield Guineas victory, kicked his career off in.

And the Caulfield Guineas is the Spring aim for Merion who now heads to the paddock – “we were always just going to run in these two races,” Moroney said.

“He is good enough to go to the Group One in Brisbane,” Steven Arnold said, “but he has had a great debut campaign and he is ready for a break – he will be a very nice horse in the Spring.”

Originally prepared in New Zealand, Merion suffered a slight set back there and did not make it to jump-out stage until he reached Australia.

Gelded due to being “pretty top heavy” as a colt, Merion impressed from his first day at the track – and even before that with Paul Moroney considering him to be the best colt at the 2013 Karaka sale.

Purchased for NZ$200,000, Merion – who was bred by Silent Achiever’s breeder Kevin Hickman – is a son of the Listed winning Danske mare Sapphire Belle.

Bred to get over a bit of ground with his grandam a full sister to the four times Group One winner Alibhai, Merion is raced by Ballymore Stables, R & C Legh Racing Pty Ltd, J O’Neill, B Nettlefold, A Kirkwood-Scott, Carty Racing and Miss K Glindemann.



We did not have to wait long to cheer home another Flemington winner with Rhythm To Spare returning to his best form in the Peter Armytage Handicap.

Always travelling well for Damien Oliver, the Pins four-year-old had a decent margin to make up over the final 200m with leader Spacecraft putting a gap on his rivals from early in the straight.

But Rhythm To Spare really charged over the latter stages of the race, drawing clear close to home to salute by 1¼ lengths with plenty in hand.

“That is more like the Rhythm To Spare we know,” said a relieved Michael Moroney who had been disappointed with the gelding’s form during a recent trip to Sydney.

“He has form the right-handed way so we thought heading to Sydney was the right move,” he said, “but he just lost the plot up there.”

At his first Sydney run – in which he finished second last in the Ajax Stakes – Rhythm To Spare sweated up badly with Boss reporting that “he nearly pulled my arms off” during the running.

Again well held in the Doncaster Prelude, Rhythm To Spare did not seem to appreciate the heavy conditions on that day and so he came home to Melbourne.

“It is good to see him back into form,” said Moroney, adding that a Group Three mile event over the Adelaide carnival is a good race for Rhythm To Spare who will then head to the paddock for a spell.

“That will be a nice way for him to finish his campaign,” he said.

A five times winner from just 15 starts, Rhythm To Spare was another nice buy for Paul Moroney whose bid of NZ$100,000 at the 2011 Karaka Sale secured the son of the stakes placed Zabeel mare Stanica.

Congratulations to owners R & C Legh Racing, the GG Syndicate, J O'Neill, Carty Racing, A Dunne, M & Mrs J Pejic, G Devonport, J Lee, M & Mrs E Dominello, B Nettlefold and R & Mrs A Scheriani and M Moroney.

And a double congrats to those lucky owners in both of our Flemington winners!

[25 Apr 14]

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