‘DIRTY’ MASQUE PROVES A POINT

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - SPORT - LEO SCHLINK

SPURNED by the rac­ing gods at the past two Mel­bourne Cups, Vengeur Masque fi­nally claimed a chunk of Flem­ing­ton glory with Queen El­iz­a­beth Stakes vic­tory yes­ter­day.

Stranded at No.25 in the Mel­bourne Cups or­der of en­try last year and again last week, Vengeur Masque ($6.50) em­bod­ies the ar­gu­ment for creat­ing Cup emer­gen­cies.

After the geld­ing de­fied Grey Lion ($26) and Wheal Leisure ($9.50) in a gru­elling fin­ish to the 2500m Group 3, trainer Mike Moroney lamented what might have been.

“It’s just dis­ap­point­ing that he didn’t make the Mel­bourne Cup,” Moroney said, re­fer­ring to the fact Who Shot The­bar­man’s scratch­ing re­duced the field to 23 but there is no ca­pac­ity to use emer­gen­cies as re­place­ments.

“We knew it was his first year of the next two to make the Cup. I would have loved to have run him this year.

“He would have re­ally run well but we just missed out.”

Vengeur Masque earned $180,000 and col­lected an ad­di­tional $100,000 bonus for his con­nec­tions be­cause he was a fi­nal ac­cep­tor for the Mel­bourne Cup.

Jockey Pa­trick Moloney jok­ingly at­trib­uted Vengeur Masque’s grit to his Cup shun­ning.

“He’s a bit dirty he didn’t get into the Mel­bourne Cup, I think, he didn’t want to lay down today,” Moloney said.

“Ob­vi­ously he ran sec­ond (in the Lexus) the other day and missed out on a Cup run. As soon as he got chal­lenged by that horse (Grey Lion), I knew I had a bit up my sleeve and he just kept fight­ing like a caged tiger.”

Moloney lauded Moroney as Godol­phin warhorse Qewy was re­tired after a fad­ing sixth.

“The train­ing genius by Mike with the gear change of the ear muffs go­ing on … he’s just relaxed so well his last three runs,” Moloney said.

“He won the Gee­long Cup, just got beaten in the Lexus, and then he’s come out today and won the Queen El­iz­a­beth.

“Hope­fully that puts him in good stead to get a crack at it next year.”

Moroney also equipped Moloney with tac­tics to un­hinge Qewy, who laboured un­der 59kg.

“We had planned to lead and try and make the favourite carry their weight. It re­ally worked well,” Moroney said.

Moroney be­lieves Vengeur Masque will con­tinue to im­prove.

“He’s just got a lot more stronger this time around,” he said. “He’ll get bet­ter.”

LIKE A TIGER: Vengeur Masque (right) fights off Grey Lion at Flem­ing­ton yes­ter­day. Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

MIXED EMO­TIONS: Trainer Michael Moroney.

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