Imported stayer Aktau has made life easier for his connections with their planning for a spring carnival campaign by taking out the Listed Mornington Cup.
Victory in Saturday’s 2400m race has guaranteed Aktau a start in this year’s Group One Caulfield Cup (2400m) in October.
Trainer Mike Moroney had targeted Aktau at Saturday’s race from the time the gelding arrived in Australia with a group of international contenders for last year’s spring carnival.
Moroney has taken his time with Aktau, delaying his Australian debut until December while Saturday’s outing was his fourth for the stable.
Stepping to 2400m for the first time, Aktau ($4.60) run down Inverloch ($8) to score by a widening three-quarters-of-a-length with Skelm ($26) a half-neck away third.
Moroney stable representative Jack Turnbull said Aktau would now be spelled to be set for the spring.
“He’s been going since the spring carnival when he came over so he’s done a marvellous job and to win this race is just the icing on the cake,” Turnbull said.
“We bought him as a Cups prospect and now he’s got that ticket into the spring and he’s naturally going to get better with time.
“If you look at him he’s just so raw and he’s such a gawky bugger so the longer the better for him, but to do this now in this initial preparation is just fantastic.”
A fast pace was carved out by Hush Writer with Inverloch trailing the leader and McNeil said the strong tempo suited Aktau
Aktau stood the leaders between 12 and 15 lengths with 1000m to run and McNeil elected to ride for luck.
“Being his first time at the trip I was questioning whether he was going to relax well enough to get the trip, especially after going keen in his last start,” McNeil said.
“But he switched off lovely today off that tempo and I had to do a bit of ducking and weaving, but once we got clear air he really stayed it out really well to the line.
“I think with maturity and racing he’s going to develop into a lovely stayer.”