Last start Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) heroine Tofane has made a real impression on trans-Tasman trainer, Michael Moroney, who is eyeing a possible tilt at The Everest (1200m), the world’s richest turf race, at Randwick in the spring. “We are just waiting for them to confirm prizemoney for The Everest,” Moroney said. “We might attack that, which does change a lot what you do in the spring.
“On the fresh side she would be competitive in an Everest and from then on she probably wants to go up to a mile. “We were even contemplating that if there wasn’t an Everest then we could give her a prep in the lead-up to the Cox Plate (Group 1, 2040m). “She is one of those mares that you can put anywhere and she has got the ability to be competitive at most distances I would think, now that she is starting to relax.”
The daughter of Ocean Park has won five of her 14 career starts, including the Group 3 Northwood Plume Stakes (1200m), Group 3 Begonia Belle Stakes (1100m), and the All-Aged Stakes, and Moroney has a high opinion of the New Zealand-bred mare. “The best horse we have got is definitely Tofane,” Moroney said. “For her to do what she did (in the All Aged Stakes) puts her in the top draw. She could end up as good a mare as I have trained I think. “She has been racing for just over 12 months and to win a Group 1 against all-comers at weight-for-age is very hard to do.”
While Moroney is looking forward to the spring with Tofane, he is also excited about the prospects of Harlech when he heads across the Tasman. The consistent three-year-old has been earmarked to join Moroney’s Melbourne barn for some time, but initial autumn plans were delayed as a result of bone chip surgery.
Runner-up in the Group 1 Levin Classic (1600m) and Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), Harlech will begin his preparation under the guidance of Moroney’s New Zealand co-trainer Pam Gerard at their Matamata property. “He will start off and do a bit of pre-training in New Zealand and he will then come across. He’s about a fortnight away from starting,” Moroney said. “We were going to bring him across for the autumn, but he had a little bone chip, so we decided not to take him over to Australia and risk that. So we decided to get that sorted and head for the spring with him. “He has been really good. The operation is only a small one. He just required time to make sure everything settled down.”
Moroney believes a mile is Harlech’s pet distance and his first major target in the spring will be the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield. “I would think a race like the Toorak Handicap, that would be the sort of race we will be looking at,” he said. “He looks as though a mile was about his right trip. He is probably going to get 2000m as well, but we will just start off aiming towards races like that.”
Back in New Zealand, Moroney is fairly excited about the prospects of a number of the stable’s rising three-year-olds, particularly Tokorangi. The daughter of Redwood finished runner-up on debut over 1200m before winning at Matamata over 1100m in January. “She will stay back in New Zealand at this stage, she looks a nice filly,” Moroney said. “At some stage she may come to Aussie, but we will probably leave her back for the early spring anyway and head her down towards the Gold Trail Stakes (Group 3, 1200m).”
Meanwhile, Moroney said the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t had too much of an impact on his Melbourne barn. “We have been lucky to be able to race (in Australia),” he said. “We took two or three to Sydney for the autumn and one across to Adelaide, which just got beaten in a Group race on Saturday. “It hasn’t really put us off except for Queensland. “Just with a lack of decent programming in Queensland, this will be the first time we haven’t been there in a long time. “There just wasn’t enough to warrant us to go up there. So we are just going to go full-bore into the spring rather than doing that.”
While his Melbourne operation has been ticking away, Moroney said he is hanging out for the borders to re-open between Australia and New Zealand so he can visit his family. “I am due back there (Matamata) when I can,” he said. “I have got grandchildren over there as well that I would like to see. That has made it a bit tougher. “I am sure it won’t be too far away for the borders between the two countries to open up. I would be surprised if it is not within the next six weeks.”