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Mike Moroney runs Tofane in the Lightning Stakes at Flemington on Saturday

After saddling Alabama Express to an upset win in the first Group One race of the year, trainer Mike Moroney runs Tofane in the Lightning Stakes.

Three-year-old Alabama Express beat the older horses in last Saturday’s C F Orr Stakes and the lightly raced Tofane takes on some of the country’s best sprinters in the Group One Lightning (1000m).

While Nature Strip appears to have a stranglehold on the race, Moroney is keen to give Tofane further experience of the Flemington straight track before her main target, the Newmarket Handicap.

Moroney had the option to wait a week and start the mare in the Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield, two weeks before the Newmarket (1200m).

At her only start on the straight track, Tofane won the Begonia Belle Stakes (1100m) in November, but this time she faces Group One winners Redzel, Despatch and Loving Gaby as well as Nature Strip.

“We thought this was suitable for two reasons, being three weeks to the Newmarket and a bit more practice down the straight,” Moroney said.

“She’s had a little bit of practice down there having trialled two or three times.

“The small field will no doubt help. She won’t get as far off them, but we’re well aware it is only 1000 metres.

“She will be solid at the finish and is a more mature mare now, but by Ocean Park out of a Galileo mare, you wouldn’t expect her to be a 1000-metre horse.

“I just want to see her working home and giving a good indication of what might come in the Newmarket.”

Moroney said connections would decide after the Newmarket whether to head to Adelaide for Sangster Stakes and The Goodwood in May.

But if Tofane shows the stable she will handle more ground then the Group One mares races in Sydney come into play.

The stable’s only other runner on Saturday is two-year-old, Old Time Rock, in the Talindert Stakes (1100m).

Moroney said Old Time Rock was better than his performance when 10th at Geelong on debut last month indicated.

“It wasn’t one of Michael Dee’s better rides,” Moroney said.

“He began badly and spent the whole race wanting to go back and was four wide, then made a run seven wide on the corner, so he deserved to drop out.

“He trialled well up the straight and he looks to have trained on.”

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