Mike Moroney would prefer not to run Vengeur Masque in the Lexus Stakes but it appears likely he will need to in a bid to make the Melbourne Cup.
Vengeur Masque won the Geelong Cup (2400m) narrowly last start and was penalised 0.5kg but still sits no.30 in the most recent Melbourne Cup ballot order with a field limit of 24.
The winner of Saturday’s Group Three Lexus (2500m) earns a ballot exemption into Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup and Moroney is prepared to start the imported gelding on Saturday unless there are Cup withdrawals beforehand.
“Ideally I’d rather not run but I think there’s a good chance that he’ll come through it well enough now that he’s a bit stronger,” Moroney said.
“But that’s still a guess, and I’d rather not be guessing.
“I’d rather just be going into the Cup by getting him ready on the (training) track. But it’s probably not going to be.
“I’d like to run him in the Cup this year.”
Connections accepted for last year’s Cup with Vengeur Masque after bypassing the Lexus Stakes, but he was one place outside the top 24.
Moroney was impressed by Vengeur Masque at Geelong.
He hit the front on the home turn and was able to hold on to beat favourite Gallic Chieftain who made a late run on the inside.
“It was a really good win after not getting many favours in the run,” Moroney said.
“He hit the front a long way out and just outstayed them.
“I was very taken with his win. He had to take the field up to the runaway leader and I thought he didn’t get enough kudos for the win.”
Naturalism Stakes winner Harlem is the $3.80 favourite for the Lexus ahead of Aloft ($5), while Vengeur Masque is one of four runners on the next line of betting at $7.