Australian campaign looms for Harlech

Consistent three-year-old Harlech has been sent for a small break after his fourth-placing in the Karaka Million 3YO (1600m) at Ellerslie on Saturday.

It was the first time the consistent colt finished outside the top three this season, having won the Gr.2 Sarten Memorial Stakes (1400m) and placed in the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m), and Listed Uncle Remus Stakes (1400m).

Michael Moroney, who trains the colt in partnership with Pam Gerard, said Harlech’s lengthy campaign began to show in Saturday’s contest.

“I thought he just raced a little bit tired, even though he didn’t get a lot of luck in the running.

“He got a bit further back from the draw (5). He was following the two that beat him, they got a run through and he had to come out and got shoved off the track.

“From halfway down the straight to the winning post he lacked a little bit of zip that he normally has.

“He did pull up looking pretty tired, so he has gone to the paddock briefly and we will work out if we can get him back in time for Sydney or whether we wait until Queensland.

“The Rosehill Guineas (Gr.1, 2000m) is the right race, but whether we can get there is the question.”

Moroney alluded that Harlech has run his last race in New Zealand for the foreseeable future, however, he hasn’t ruled out a lead-in run in his homeland ahead of his autumn campaign.

“I would think so (last race in New Zealand). Having said that, we haven’t made a decision yet, he may be seen here in New Zealand and even have a run before he goes to Australia,” he said.

“The latter part of his thee-year-old season was always planned to be in Australia.”

On the same card, fellow stable runner Pinmedown tailed the field home in the Karaka Cup (2200m), but Moroney said the daughter of Pins had her excuses.

“She just didn’t have any luck at all. In those small fields you always need luck in the running, she just happened to get the worst run back on the fence and got dictated to,” he said.

“She is one that is better when she gets clear air. Whether she is going quite as good as she was in her two previous starts is questionable, but as long as she pulls up fine we will have a go at the Avondale Cup (Gr.2, 2400m) with her and take it from there.”

Meanwhile, Moroney said On The Rocks is on track to try and defend his crown in the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa on February 8 after his last start unplaced run in the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m).

“He didn’t see daylight at all in the Thorndon, he just got held up. Even though he is a little bloke, he is a big striding horse and does need to get flowing a bit and couldn’t.

“We are on target for the weight-for-age he won last year, it would be nice to win it again.”

Moroney said his team have taken a patient approach with On The Rocks after he took a while to recover from his gelding operation.

“He had a bit of a setback. We gelded him and that knocked him around a little bit being an older horse. We have given him the time to get over it, hence why he’s racing a little later in the season. He’s on fresh legs.”

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