Eliza Park’s head breaker, Darren Mackereth, keeps a close eye on the comings and goings of his ‘graduates’ and noticed that the Mike Moroney-trained trio – Viking Hero, Sophrosyne and the exciting King Pulse – are all on target to make a mark this autumn. The following was picked up by Darren from the bigpond racing website last Friday, on the eve of Viking Hero running a solid first up fourth over 1300m at Sandown – beaten just over a length – while Sophrosyne flew home for second in the same event, coming from eighth on the bend.
Viking Hero begins a campaign aimed towards the AJC Australian Derby when he resumes in the Rancher Handicap at Sandown.
Trainer Mike Moroney said the Elvstroem colt had strengthened up since being sent for a spell after being relegated from first to third on protest to Turf Express in the Myer Spring Fashion Stakes (1800m) at Flemington on Oaks Day at his fourth race start.
“We are plotting a path towards the AJC Derby and you’ll see a stronger version of him this time,” Moroney said.
“He’s a lovely horse now. He’s out of a Zabeel mare and I expect staying to be his forte and he won’t find his best form until he gets out over a bit of a trip.”
Viking Hero’s dam Gypsy Dollar is a half-sister to 1993 AJC Derby and Rosehill Guineas winner Innocent King and 1996 Sandown Cup winner Royal Snack.
Moroney accepted with both Viking Hero and stablemate Sophrosyne in Saturday’s 1300m Rating 72 three-year-old event and said while Viking Hero was “up to the mark” for his first-up assignment, Sophrosyne was probably the better chance of the pair over the sprint trip (certainly got that right! – ed).
“If he can find his right form I think he’s a seriously good horse so it’ll be very interesting,” he said.
A Testa Rossa gelding, Sophrosyne won successive races over 1400m at Cranbourne and over 1300 at Seymour last August, but disappointed the stable when second-last behind Most Immediate over 1200m at Moonee Valley on January 8.
Steven Arnold will ride Sophrosyne while Luke Currie has been booked for Viking Hero.
Meanwhile Moroney is hoping lightly raced three-year-old King Pulse will be ready for a first up crack at the $1 million Newmarket Hcp (1200m) at Flemington on March 6.
He said the Canny Lad gelding pulled up “quite shinsore” after running a nose second to Headway in the Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Derby Day which was only his third start.
The chestnut had impressed winning his first two starts over 1103m at Geelong and over 1200m at Caulfield earlier in the spring.
“We gave him six weeks off and three weeks on the water walker. He’s been doing strong pacework since coming back to the stable and we’ll step him up shortly but all going well we would like to think he could head to the Newmarket, but it would have to be first up.
“But it is something we’ll have to monitor on the way through.”
Viking Hero (top) and Sophrosyne during their stay at Eliza Park.