Vengeur Masque (IRE) spells ahead of spring

Heartbreak, rejection and exclusion - Vengeur Masque's (IRE) career has had its fair share of vexing moments.

The seven-year-old gelding trained by Michael Moroney was runner-up in last Saturday's $2 million Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m), a feat to be celebrated in isolation.

However, the long neck defeat to Shraaoh was another case of so close yet so far for Moroney and connections.

The Irish-bred son of Monsun arrived in Australia during the summer of 2015/16 after finishing fifth of seven runners, beaten 11 lengths, in the G1 English St Leger (2917m) at Doncaster in September 2015.

Since having his first Australian start at Sandown Hillside in August 2016, Vengeur Masque has also experienced the following:

Missed out on a berth in the Melbourne Cup fields of 2016 and 2017, situated as 25th in the elimination order at the time final acceptances were taken for the 24-horse field;

Beat all bar Francis Of Assisi in the 2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m), albeit finishing 10 lengths off Charlie Appleby's Spring Carnival visitor;

Almost led throughout in the 2017 Mornington Cup (2400m) only to again be foiled by a Godolphin horse, beaten a short half head by Tally, which also meant he was denied 2017 Caulfield Cup ballot exemption in the process;

Won the 2017 Geelong Cup but became one of three Geelong Cup winners in the past nine years to miss out on a start in the Melbourne Cup a fortnight later;

Runner-up to Cismontane, beaten a head, in the 2017 Lexus Stakes when trying to gain ballot-free exemption into the 2017 Melbourne Cup field; and

When finally qualifying for his first Melbourne Cup last November, Vengeur Masque struck an unfavourable rain-affected Soft 6 surface - the first time the Cup had been held on a non-Good track since 2010.

Vengeur Masque will be spelled and prepared for next season's Melbourne Spring Carnival, aimed at the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.

The revamped conditions of next month's $400,000 Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (2800m) - a race now restricted to those aged three to five - means Vengeur Masque is too old to contest that Flemington staying feature which offers ballot-free exemption to the winner for the 2019 Melbourne Cup.

"We would have liked the opportunity to qualify for the Cup but in saying that I think he's a good chance of getting into the field this year, we should get enough weight," Moroney said.

"He's done a bit of travelling, going to New Zealand to run in the Auckland Cup last month. We did toss up whether to take him to Queensland for the Brisbane Cup because he's pretty competitive at a mile-and-a-half (2400m).

"But we just felt that he had one really good spring campaign left in him and he's not as effective on wet ground - especially over two miles (3200m)."

Stablemate Sound is also heading to the paddock after finishing eighth, beaten five lengths, in the Sydney Cup.

"We're going to be wiser for having him for this first full preparation," Moroney said of the German import who made his local debut when 12th to Best Solution in last year's G1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).

"His run in the Tancred two starts ago was really good - he probably should have run second but he got held up on the home turn and finished fourth.

"In the Sydney Cup we couldn't get too much of a line on him, he was caught three wide when the pace dropped out of the race and was forced into the lead. He was a sitting duck and in the circumstances I thought he went well."

Sound, who raced under the former name Sound Check, is a three-time German Stakes winner who finished second to Best Solution in the G1 Grosser Preis von Berlin (2414m) at Hoppegarten last August.

Shraaqh (IRE) and Vengeur Masque (IRE) (right) in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on April 13th, picture