Mike Moroney is looking forward to the season with imported stayer Vengeur Masque who the trainer believes has now fully matured.
Vengeur Masque is the only horse the 2000 Melbourne Cup-winning trainer has entered for this year’s 3200m showpiece at Flemington and one of only two horses from the stable nominated for the 2017 Caulfield Cup.
The now six-year-old finished eighth in last year’s Caulfield Cup in his first Australian preparation and narrowly missed earning a ballot exemption to this year’s race when second in the Mornington Cup in March.
He resumes in Saturday’s Heatherlie Handicap over 1700m at Caulfield, with the Naturalism Stakes (2000m) another early season race on the radar which carries with it a Caulfield Cup ballot exemption.
Vengeur Masque contested the Sydney Cup (3200m) which was called off mid-race in April but did not line up in the rescheduled running two weeks later.
Moroney said the horse had lightened off considerably by that time and had not travelled all that well from Melbourne and was sent to the paddock.
“He has come back far stronger than he ever has looked,” Moroney said.
“He is now a six-year-old our time and a five-year-old by northern hemisphere time, but he was a very late foal and this is the first time I’ve looked at him and thought he looked fully mature.
“So we’re looking forward to this season with him.
“He has shown little glimpses here so far. His run in the Caulfield Cup last year was very good and he was only just beaten in the Mornington Cup by Tally which was costly for us because it means he now has to try to qualify for the Caulfield Cup.”
Moroney says Vengeur Masque is not at his best until he gets up past 2000m, but added being stronger now could mean he runs better first-up than previous preparations.