Trainer Mike Moroney believes the barrier draw and weights make it harder to split his two chances in the Winter Championship Series Final as he bids to win the Listed race for a fourth time.
Moroney has a strong hand at Saturday’s Flemington meeting including imports Mr Marathon Man and Radipole in the Winter Championship Final (1600m), a race he last won in 2002 with The Big Ask after also winning in the late 1990s with Happy Star and Ben’s Rocket.
The trainer also has odds-on favourite Buffalo River in Saturday’s Silver Bowl Series Final (1600m) while straight-track specialist Milwaukee is the early favourite for the Listed Victorian Sprint Series Final (1200m).
Five-year-old gelding Mr Marathon Man, a Listed winner in France, stamped his Winter Championship claims when he chased down Waging War on a rain-affected track at Sandown on June 15 to register his first Australian win at his third local start.
He has top weight of 60kg and barrier nine on Saturday with champion jockey Damien Oliver sticking with him, while his stablemate Radipole has 4.5kg less and has drawn gate four in the field of 15.
Mr Marathon Man was on the second line of betting at $5 in an early market with the TAB on Wednesday with Radipole at $19, although Moroney suggested the pair were harder to split.
“I don’t think there’s much between them at the weights,” Moroney said.
“Radipole badly needed to draw a gate and he has drawn a gate, so that brings him into it.
“If he had have drawn off the track I would have said I would definitely be leaning towards the other horse, but now on weights and measures and everything there’s probably not much between them.”
Moroney said Mr Marathon Man had come through his narrow but impressive Sandown win three weeks ago well.
“I thought his work on Tuesday was as good as I’ve seen him work since I’ve had him, just in the way he relaxed and finished it off the right way,” he said.
He said Radipole, who finished fifth in a Group One 1600m race at Flemington during the 2017 spring, had a disappointing campaign last time but he felt a reason was he did not have a long enough break between the 2018 autumn and spring.
After a good spell ahead of this campaign, Radipole pleased Moroney with his first-up fourth in a heat of the series over 1400m at Flemington on June 8.