Moroney stablemates tackle Grand Handicap

Mike Moroney believes there is not much between stablemates War Legend and Strike Force who will face each other in one of the $150,000 Grand Handicaps at Flemington.

Saturday’s Flemington card is highlighted by the Group Two Blamey Stakes but the program also features three ‘Grand Handicaps’ over 1200m, 1600m and 2000m.

The series has included six heats at country Victorian tracks where the winners earned ballot exemptions into the respective $150,000 Grand Handicap which are conducted on Saturday as benchmark-80 races.

A horse rated 80 has 62kg in the Grand Handicaps with the minimum 53kg.

Neither War Legend nor Strike Force ran in the country races but have made the field for Saturday’s The Curragh Grand Handicap (1600m) with War Legend on the second line of betting at $6 behind Portman while Strike Force is at $10.

Four-year-old War Legend resumed from 34 weeks off the scene to win over 1400m first-up at Sandown on March 1 while Strike Force is having his sixth run of his preparation.

He won after winning a benchmark 70 at Moonee Valley two starts ago and then finishing second in the same grade at the same track last start.

“War Legend has trained on really well,” Moroney said.

“Strike Force won two starts ago and just got beaten last start but he lacked a bit of luck as he just got caught three-wide.

“So they both should be hard to beat.”

Moroney believes Strike Force is in career best form, while the trainer is looking towards the Queensland winter carnival with War Legend.

“We’d like to get him to Queensland for the carnival if we could,” Moroney said.

“We’d like to think he’s going to get a mile-and-a-quarter (2000m) eventually. So there’s races like the Ipswich Cup and races like that if he does happen to get up to that sort of trip.”

Moroney has Lord Barrington resuming in Saturday’s York Racecourse Grand Handicap (1200m) with apprentice Jake Bayliss to claim 2kg off his 62kg.

“He had 14 starts last campaign and won three of them,” Moroney said.

“So we just gave him a nice break, and he can race right through the winter as he handles a bit of cut in the ground.

“Whatever he does on Saturday he’ll improve from.”

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