The barrier draw for the Rod Johnson Handicap at Flemington has trainer Mike Moroney struggling to split stablemates Loyalty Man and Radipole.
Loyalty Man resumes in Saturday’s 1400m-handicap while import Radipole is second-up after a recent Melbourne debut which Moroney felt had plenty of merit.
Loyalty Man has barrier 11 and Radipole five.
“There’s not much between them,” Moroney said.
“I would have leaned Loyalty Man’s way but now the draws have probably evened it up.
“It’s quite a good field for this time of year but we’re taking two nice horses there.”
Moroney said Radipole could have a short break after Saturday while Loyalty Man has the Winter Championship Series Final as an aim.
Saturday’s race is a series heat with the final next month.
Moroney felt Loyalty Man was unlucky not to win the Magic Millions Cup at his most recent start in January, denting his chances with a slow start, finishing 10th in a bunched finish.
Loyalty Man has had issues in the barriers and Moroney hopes that has been rectified with the gelding to wear a blindfold on Saturday.
After being taken to the jump-outs a couple of times without much improvement in his barrier behaviour, Loyalty Man has won two with a blindfold on in the gates.
The blindfold is taken off just before the field jumps.
“He is well forward for his first run. He’s just got a tricky draw,” Moroney said.
“I think the horse has improved from last campaign to now. He’s finally mature and starting to do things a long way better.”
Moroney felt Radipole, a Listed winner in France, boxed on well when sixth to Sovereign Nation in his Australian debut at Flemington after over-racing near the speed.