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Marenostro kicking off path to G2 Villiers

One-time Epsom Handicap prospect Marenostro will use his home track at Rosehill as the setting to kick off a campaign aimed at the Group Two Villiers Stakes.

Trainer Chris Waller decided to lower his sights to the summer feature after Marenostro performed admirably but failed to make his case to be a Group One horse.

The gelding resumes in the November Handicap (1400m) at Rosehill on Saturday and is likely to go to the Listed Festival Stakes at Rosehill (1500m) on December 3 before tackling the Villiers (1600m) at Randwick on December 17.

“He did a good job last prep but we identified that he’s not really an Epsom type of horse so we put him away and had a look at the Villiers,” Waller said.

Marenostro finished second behind stablemate McCreery in the Listed Rowley Mile in August before being sent for a short spell.

“He runs well fresh,” Waller said.

“Admittedly they’ve been in lesser grade races. He’s up at a higher grade now carrying more weight which makes it a bit harder to win first-up.”

Waller said Marenostro’s winning strike rate of more than 30 per cent from 32 starts gave him a good chance on Saturday with stablemate Religify also set to go around in the race.

Religify has been a beaten favourite at his last two starts but has only missed the placings in one-third of his 21 races.

“He’s going well but the handicapper has got hold of him through his consistency,” Waller said.

Religify returns to 1400m after being tried over 1550m at Canterbury where Red Excitement, who he meets again on Saturday, had his measure.

“He’s going back in distance and he’s drawn 14 so that’s a bit of a negative,” Waller said.

“He’ll roll across, see how he ends up. He just needs a bit of luck.”

American import Closing Bell headlines the stable’s five runners in the November Topaz (1900m).

The Group One-placed entire was bought by Newgate Farm and will have his second run for Waller after finishing sixth in a Listed race at Flemington on Melbourne Cup day over 1800m.

“We would like to prepare him for a serious attempt at a Group One race at some stage, hopefully in Sydney if not in Queensland over 2000 metres,” Waller said.

Index Linked, Magicool, Beyond Thankful and Dance Of Heroes give Waller five hopes in the 12-horse Topaz field.

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