Trainer Mike Moroney will chase an elusive Auckland Cup with Vengeur Masque who is set to be flown across the Tasman for the Group One staying feature at Ellerslie.
Moroney, who is based in Melbourne but also operates stables in New Zealand, recently notched the 50th Group One win of his career when On The Rocks took out the Herbie Dyke Stakes at Te Rapa on February 9.
Vengeur Masque won the Listed Torney Night Cup (2500m) at The Valley in Melbourne on February 15 and Moroney said he was scheduled to fly to New Zealand on Sunday to contest Saturday week’s $500,000 Auckland Cup (3200m).
Opie Bosson will ride Vengeur Masque.
“That is one of only two races in New Zealand when I was there that were Group One that I didn’t win,” Moroney said.
“It would be nice to tick that one off.
“I’ve run second in it and had a couple of thirds.
“Second Coming should have won it one year.”
Second Coming was a close second in 2000 before easily winning the Wellington Cup at his next start.
Moroney is in a training partnership in New Zealand with Pam Gerard and they have Arrogant in Saturday’s New Zealand Derby.
The pair considered running Vengeur Masque in the Group Two Adelaide Cup (3200m) but decided he was better suited in Auckland.
“We had the Adelaide Cup as an option as well but he was going to get a lot of weight in the Adelaide Cup,” Moroney said.
“He probably would have got 60 kilos and he’s in with 57 in the Auckland Cup at the set weights and penalties.
“And it’s worth $100,000 more. So that made our plans a bit easier.
“I’m really happy with him. He has done a couple of pieces of work here right handed and he seems good.
“He and Charles Road are equal topweights and Charles Road did beat us home in the Melbourne Cup last year but our horse didn’t handle the wet ground.
“Charles Road would be the one to beat on paper.”
Moroney chases a Group One win at Flemington on Saturday with Victoria Derby placegetter Chapada in the Australian Guineas, but admits the second outside barrier is disappointing.