Moroney marks milestone, eyes next G1

5 min read

By Bren O'Brien

Having raised the bat for a half century of Group 1 winners thanks to On The Rocks' (NZ) win in the G1 Herbie Dyke S. at Te Rapa on Saturday, Mike Moroney is eyeing more top-flight success with his star Australian pair Hawker Hurricane (Deep Field) and Chapada (Bullet Train {GB}).

It has taken Moroney 33 years from his first win with Imperial Angel (NZ) (Imperial Seal {GB}) in the 1985 NZ 1000 Guineas to notch the 50 wins, but he's more concerned about finding his next one than celebrating the 50 that have passed.

"The last five were getting a bit slow to get, we’ve made it there, and hopefully onto the next 50," - Mike Moroney

"The last five were getting a bit slow to get, we’ve made it there, and hopefully onto the next 50," Moroney told RSN.

On The Rocks the 50th Group 1 winner for Mike Moroney

"I got my licence at the age of 22, I've had it for a while, 36 years or something like that. I think my first Group 1 winner was in about my fifth year of training, when I won the Thousand Guineas in New Zealand and it’s gone on from there."

It was a milestone of a different type for Moroney's New Zealand co-trainer Pam Gerard, who tasted her first Group 1 success.

Moroney confirmed On The Rocks could be headed for an Australian campaign with an eye towards the Brisbane winter carnival after he contests the Haunui Farm Group 1 Classic on February 23 at Otaki.

On The Rocks pictured as a yearling

Eyes on Diamond

Moroney's focus will likely be on Caulfield that day with his promising 2-year-old Hawker Hurricane, who is headed to the G1 Blue Diamond S. after his fast-finishing third in the G3 Blue Diamond Prelude on Saturday.

That was just the colt's second start, having won the Magic Millions Clockwise Classic on debut and Moroney felt there was considerable improvement to be made off what he said was a wayward performance.

Hawker Hurricane

"We always thought he was the right horse. He just surprised me with the lack of ringcraft, because he has been a gentleman all the way through and been very professional. He'd won a jumpout and gone through and done everything right," Moroney said.

"Mark (Zahra) said he never didn’t do anything right from the time he jumped away on Saturday. He couldn’t get him to concentrate and do things right. Even in the straight he said he was still in third gear."

Moroney said the likely solution is the application of blinkers, but he would work the horse in them this week and make a final decision.

"It was a great run, but a bit frustrating," he said. "There's still a bit of improvement there. He was coming off a break, and fitness-wise we’d expect him to improve a little bit more."

"But it is going to be his ringcraft that is going to be the thing. We've only got two weeks to get it right. In these 1200m races if they do it wrong, they are hard to win."

Hawker Hurricane pictured as a yearling

Hawker Hurricane was a $150,000 Gold Coast Magic Millions buy for the trainers brother and bloodstock agent Paul. His dam Bernarsini (Bernardini {USA}) is a half-sister to Group winners Mahisara and Ullmann.

Moroney last won Victoria's richest 2-year-old race with True Jewels (Brief Truce {USA}) in 2001.

Derby dreams with Chapada

Moroney's promising 3-year-old stayer Chapada resumes in Saturday's G3 CS Hayes S. at Flemington, with a view to the staying riches of the Sydney autumn.

Last seen when third in the G1 Victoria Derby, Chapada has had a couple of recent Flemington jumpouts, the most recent when finishing off nicely last Friday.

Knowing Chapada, who hails from the family of Melbourne Cup runner-up Bauer (Ire) (Halling {USA}), will need to get out in trip to show his best, Moroney will likely step him from the CS Hayes straight into the G1 Randwick Guineas second up before targeting the G1 Rosehill Guineas and the G1 Australian Derby.


"We believe that the two races we think we can win are the Rosehill Guineas and the Derby. There's a good chance he may trek up to Sydney after this one and run in the Randwick Guineas," he said.

"We are leaning a bit towards Sydney, because we do think his two best chances are going right-handed, so we want him to have that bit of extra practice."

"He is going very well. He spelled ok and he's really blossomed since he has come back in, He's got stronger and stronger as each week goes on. The more we’ve stepped his work up, the better he's got."

Moroney confirmed that his progressive 5-year-old stayer Hang Man (Ire) (Windsor Knot {Ire}) would also run at Flemington this Saturday.