LESSONS learnt from an unforgiving introduction to black-type racing could be pivotal to Maroney Avenue's chances of winning the Takeover Target Stakes at Gosford tomorrow.
Maroney Avenue took an unbeaten record into the Carrington Stakes but inexperience and a minor injury concern conspired against the Rodney Northam-trained sprinter extending his sequence past six wins.
"The Carrington [Stakes] was a little bit disappointing on face value but he got stitched up on the first turn," Northam said.
"That got him over-racing and checking off heels. He came back with some speedy cuts [as a result of striking himself] and he was bit lame on that leg.
"It was the first time he had raced in a high-pressure race and he just didn't cope so the experience out of it should help him."
When known as the Pacesetter Stakes, the listed race announced the arrival of Takeover Target in 2004 as a powerhouse of Australian racing.
Takeover Target won the Gosford race at his fifth start and added two more victories to his record before meeting defeat for the first time.
Northam has a resume that makes him one of the best of his trade in country NSW yet in a roundabout fashion he is thankful Maroney Avenue's unbeaten run is over.
"In one way it is a bit of a relief he was beaten because while it is good to keep horses in winning form it comes with a lot of expectation," he said.
With the benefit of some shoeing changes since the Carrington Stakes, Maroney Avenue galloped without incident on Monday.
"The corrective shoeing seems to have worked and I'm going to the race confident he will run well," Northam said.
One of three stakes races on a revamped Gosford Gold Cup card, the Takeover Target has attracted 10 acceptors, including the former New Zealander Rock 'N' Pop.
Rock 'N' Pop, the runner-up in last year's New Zealand Derby, has not been seen since going amiss in the Warwick Stakes in August at his first run for trainer Gai Waterhouse.
In first markets on the Cup, last-start Tattersalls Club Cup winner Moriarty heads betting at $4.40.
But it's cramped at the top with Travolta ($5) and Fiumicino ($6) well in commission, just ahead of Panko ($8), which will have Victorian jockey Peter Mertens in the saddle. AAP