Trainer Danny O’Brien has given Merriest a thorough grounding ahead of her racing return at Moonee Valley.
A Listed race winner at the track, Merriest lines up in Saturday’s Dr Sheahan Plate (1200m) for her first start since running fourth in black-type company in Adelaide in May.
Merriest showed she was coming to hand well with a barrier trial win at Cranbourne earlier in the month, in which she defeated Caulfield Guineas placegetter Seaburge, before an impressive track gallop at Moonee Valley on Tuesday.
“We’ve done a fair bit with her,” O’Brien said.
“Her last couple of preps she’s needed the runs but I suspect she’s a lot more forward this time.
“Her trial and her gallop were excellent and she’s come back as a four-year-old in really good shape.”
Merriest has been posted the $4.40 favourite for Saturday’s 1200m contest on the strength of her trial victory and gallop.
O’Brien said being a winner over Saturday’s course and distance was an advantage for Merriest.
The filly lowered the colours of Whispering Brook and Sweet Sherry in the Listed Atlantic Jewel Stakes at the track last September.
“She’s seems well graded,” O’Brien said.
“She’s a stakes-winner, she’s won at the track which is certainly a big thing at Moonee Valley and I think she’s going as well as we’ve had her.”
O’Brien said he would like to see Merriest back in black-type company if the mare performs up to his expectations on Saturday.
‘There’s a couple of mares’ stakes races coming up at Caulfield and she’s won at Caulfield, so if she won on Saturday I’d say they’d be suitable targets,” he said.