Former Kiwi galloper Bankers Choice (Mongolian Khan x Signorina) ran out a ready winner of the A$500,000 Listed Ballarat Cup (2000m) on Saturday for trainer Michael Moroney.
It was just reward for the five-year-old son of Mongolian Khan, who has been around the mark in a host of features since crossing the Tasman and has raced without luck this spring, including a close-up sixth in the Gr.1 Champions Stakes (2000m) behind Zaaki a fortnight ago.
Jumping from an inside barrier, jockey John Allen had Bankers Choice positioned just forward of midfield for much of the contest. After appearing to be under pressure rounding the home turn, Bankers Choice found another gear when switched to the better ground centre-track, cruising to a two and a quarter-length victory over Atishu, another former Kiwi.
"He deserved a nice win, he's a very smart horse,” said Moroney, who was celebrating his first Ballarat Cup triumph.
“He's a bit quirky but he's got real ability and it's just been a matter of getting things right. I was a bit worried before they turned for him when he had to put one on his bum to get him going, but he did quicken up really well.
"This is the first Ballarat Cup that I've won. I did have one run in the 1990's when I first came over from New Zealand, so it's been a long time trying to win it and it's good to finally have done it."
Moroney said Bankers Choice was a horse that has really improved through his spring campaign.
“He's a really tough horse and you have to treat him that way,” he said. “I was worried about him in the early part of the spring. He just wasn't looking right and working a bit below average for him, but he did turn the corner later in the spring like a few of my team.
"He'll go to the paddock now and he can go to Sydney again for the autumn, all going well. He ran sixth in the Doncaster (Gr.1, 1600m), so we'll map a program for him in Sydney, I would think."
It was the first win on Australian soil for Bankers Choice, with the tough gelding an impressive winner of the Gr.3 Anniversary Handicap (1600m) at Trentham back in January, beating subsequent Group One winner Coventina Bay.
Bred and raced by South Waikato farming couple Ross and Corrine Kearney under their Okaharau Station, Bankers Choice won five of his ten starts for Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh before a majority interest was sold to clients of the Moroney stable in a private transaction.
Out of the Conatus mare Signorina, Bankers Choice is a half-brother to stakes placed mare Jodelin Gal and six-time winner In Fiore.
The Kearneys have got a Time Test two-year-old out of Signorina and a yearling full brother to Bankers Choice, with the mare due to foal to Ace High this year.
The multiple stakes winner is the best performer to date by Mongolian Khan, with the triple Group One winning stayer standing at Windsor Park Stud near Cambridge. -NZ Racing Desk