The Ballymore stables of Mike Moroney and Pam Gerard have plenty to look forward to over the Auckland Cup Carnival, following the performances of proven stayer Sound and progressive mare Tia d’Or on Saturday.
Eight-year-old entire Sound finished second in the Group 2 Avondale Cup (2400m) behind Robusto, carrying topweight of 59kgs, cementing his +250 favouritism for the Group 1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) on March 13.
“It was only his second run back after Mike (Moroney) gave him a race over 1800m in January at Caulfield,” Gerard said.
“Troy (Harris, jockey) thought he had the outside horses covered, but didn’t quite see the light weight (Robusto) come up the inside, and he was giving her seven-kilos. Troy was really happy, said the horse was out on his feet the last bit but it was still a huge run.
“He got a little bit galloped on in behind but he seems to be okay. It was a really good effort.
“He should be in the Auckland Cup for a long way. He had a good blow and we’ll keep his fitness up. I thought in the birdcage he looked a little bit pretty, but we just have to get him to the next level.”
Sound ran well for second in last year’s Auckland Cup on a hit-and-run mission from Moroney’s Flemington stable, with the trans-Tasman conditioners opting for a two-start New Zealand campaign this time around.
“With the Avondale Cup being a penalty-free race into the Auckland Cup it was the best option for him,” Gerard said.
Sound will likely be on a plane to Sydney following the Auckland Cup, where races like the Group 1 Tancred Stakes (2400m) and the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) are possible targets.
While Sound is a proven staying commodity, progressive Tavistock four-year-old Tia d’Or looks a stayer of the future after winning a Rating 65 2100m event at Ellerslie on Saturday under a controlled front-running Samantha Collett ride.
“There is a Rating 74 2100m race back at Ellerslie that is worth $50,000 and we will just look at stepping her through the grades,” Gerard said.
“We will probably put her out for a spell after that and hopefully she will improve again. She is a big mare that has taken a bit of time, but she is from a very good family, being out of a Zabeel daughter of Giovana.
“Given the time, she is just getting better and better. She was quite green when she first started racing and she has taken a long time but she was always going to be worth the wait.”
Gerard said a decision would be made over the next few days as to whether their pair of Group 1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) entrants, Tokorangi and Grip, would contest the $1 million feature but she wasn’t reading too much into the latter’s run for ninth in Saturday’s Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m).
“We’re still deciding at this stage. We will work out plans with Tokorangi in the next few days,” Gerard said.
“Grip’s run in the Avondale Guineas probably didn’t look that good, but he got a long, long way out of his ground and he is a horse that really needs to be kept in touch. It wasn’t his type of race. He is quite a laid-back fella and getting the 2400m will be no problem for him.
“He pulled up well and came home and ate up, so my gut feeling is I’d be happy to have a go.”