Seamus Mullins confirms next step for Moroder as seasonal return is hampered by weather

Seamus Mullins will send burgeoning staying chaser Moroder to Newbury for the Coral Mandarin Handicap Chase on New Year’s Eve after his belated seasonal return was scuppered by the weather.

The eight-year-old has won the last four of his six starts over fences, although plans to start him off in the Tommy Whittle Chase were shelved when Haydock's Saturday card was abandoned due to a frozen track. 

The Ann Leftley-owned gelding will need conditions to ease before taking his chance in the three-and-a-quarter-mile event, however.

Mullins said: "He was due to run in the Tommy Whittle, but will probably end up heading for the Mandarin at Newbury.

"I wouldn't go to Newbury on anything other than soft, because he is a horse who needs proper winter ground. That would be the obvious choice, but sadly it is not as valuable as the Tommy Whittle.

"We might go back to Haydock in January if not. We are keen to get him out. He had a minor setback and was all set to run at Exeter, but he had a minor muscle pull behind, which put him back a month.

"That meant we ended up ready to run and then the frost came."

Moroder has been relatively lightly raced but has been ultra consistent, winning six and finishing runner-up in another four of his 15 starts under rules.

He has been out of the first two just once in his last eight outings, that coming on his seasonal bow last term.

His Wilsford-Cum-Lake, Wilshire-based handler says a patient approach is beginning to pay off, despite warning he may again need his first outing of the season.

"He is a horse with whom we had to be patient - and we are lucky with the owner we have - because he is not a horse I could have pushed any earlier. He is a big, lazy sort who need a lot of work, a lot of graft," explained Mullins.

"Sometimes, if you give them graft as five, six or seven-year-olds, they turn it in, especially if they are a little bit laid back.

"But once he gets on a racecourse, it always brings the best out of him.

"Obviously the setback didn't help and I would like to have gone to the Tommy Whittle with a run under our belt. The extra few weeks has done him no harm, but he is a horse who would be better for a run."

Mullins hopes he will develop into a top staying handicapper, with races such as the Grand National on his radar, although perhaps not this season.

He added: "He'd have to earn his place in an open handicap, but he is pushing towards that.

"I didn't put any entries in the Welsh National, but maybe you'd look at something like a Warwick trial or Haydock trial at some stage and see where you are.

"You want him to be a 140-plus rated horse before you start thinking about any of those sort of races.

"He is a horse who is just coming to his best now. His two best seasons are ahead of him rather than behind him."

Seamus Mullins will send burgeoning staying chaser Moroder to Newbury for the Coral Mandarin Handicap Chase on New Year's Eve after his belated seasonal return was scuppered by the weather.

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