Steven Arnold’s recent dominance in the Anzac Day Stakes has continued with the jockey bringing up his third successive win on a gelding who will get the chance to emulate last year’s winner in the spring.
Arnold partnered the Mike Moroney-trained Merion to a narrow but impressive win in Friday’s 1410m Listed event for two-year-olds at Flemington.
He rode Underestimation to win in 2012 and subsequent Caulfield Guineas winner Long John 12 months ago.
Merion won the same corresponding Bendigo maiden as Long John in the lead-up to his stakes debut.
Trainer Mike Moroney rates Merion an exciting prospect and will look to follow the Long John path to the Caulfield Guineas.
“He’s always shown a lot from the time we started galloping him and always had a good brain too,” Moroney said.
“That will be it for now. He’ll come back and we’ll see what Long John did to get where he did.”
Arnold had to be patient on Merion ($7.50) in the straight as he was behind a wall of horses until an opening appeared approaching the 200m mark.
The gelding sprinted quickly when a gap appeared to win by half a length ahead of a blanket finish for the minor placings with Light Up Manhattan ($101) second and Lazyaxl ($12) and Divan ($10) dead-heating for third.
Arnold said Long John had been dominant in a midweek Sandown win before he won the Anzac Day Stakes with 59kg, making it hard to compare him with Merion.
He admitted Long John would probably have a higher rating at the same stage.
“But he (Merion) has got upside,” Arnold said.
“He’s a nice horse. I gave him a couple of jumpouts leading into Bendigo and was pretty happy going in there.
“I think he won despite the wet ground that day and he probably showed a better turn of foot today.
“I just had to wait and get a bit of luck late and he was good enough to sprint through.”