After storming home into a placing at Nowra on debut, Theresa Bateup is confident Moon Stories is set to sparkle when he steps out in the ACM Click N Connect Maiden Handicap (1600m) at the Sapphire Coast on Thursday.
Despite not winning, Bateup’s three-year-old was no doubt the horse to follow out the Pink Up Berry Maiden Handicap (1200m).
After getting well back from a wide draw, the son of Odyssey Moon charged to the line from a hopeless position on the home turn to finish third, with a turn of foot only reserved for good horses.
“He’s a very nice horse,” Bateup said.
“It was a great first-up run and he can continue to improve. I always thought he would get back but maybe not that far – he just wants to relax.
“When he got into the straight though he lengthened really nicely.
“I did have the option of going to town for a maiden with him but at the same time we are going to try and protect his rating a bit.
“We can take him through the grades and then still be looking at those three-year-old graduation races in town later on.
“Robyn Freeman-Key was very keen to retain the ride – she said after the race, ‘who do I need to beg to keep the ride!?’”
Stepping up an extra two furlongs, Moon Stories has once again been given an outside gate to overcome but Bateup believes there is enough in her horse’s favour to overcome that obstacle.
“He is drawn wide again but it probably doesn’t hurt him too much,” she said.
“He doesn’t mind having a bit of room. He will probably go back again but not that far.
“Stepping up to the mile we hope he is that little bit closer and on the nice big track he will get plenty of time and space to balance up and let down through his gears.
“I think the mile second-up will only be a benefit.”
While showing plenty of potential now, Bateup revealed this wasn’t always the case.
“His first ever jump out he got beaten half the length of the straight. He had no idea!” Bateup said.
“But he has just continued to improve. Every time he has stepped out, he has improved and taken everything on board.
“He comes out the next time and he has gone to another level again. If he keeps doing that, he is definitely a horse we are going to have some fun with.”
The gelding was bred by Kooringal Stud at Wagga, who have remained in the ownership after he failed to meet reserve at the 2020 Inglis Classic Yearling sale.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Kooringal,” Bateup said.
“The Lamont family is just a fantastic family, and the property is just beautiful.
“They have bred a lovely style of a horse – beautifully put together and I’d love to get a win for them on Thursday!”
Moon Stories is the best of six runners accepted for the Bateup stable on the seven-race card and will line up in race 5 at 3.35pm. Full fields can be viewed by clicking here.