Patrick Moloney guides Tivaci (left) to a win over the Damien Oliver-ridden El Divino (right) in the Kensington Stakes.
Patrick Moloney guides Tivaci (left) to a win over the Damien Oliver-ridden El Divino (right) in the Kensington Stakes. Vince Caligiuri

Tivaci impresses in upstaging Weir duo

HANDSOME entire Tivaci is being aimed at the race that provided Black Caviar with arguably her greatest victory - the Newmarket Handicap.

For trainer Mike Moroney and his young stable jockey Patrick Moloney, Tivaci's narrow first-up win over Darren Weir pair El Divino and Hellbent in the Kensington Stakes at Flemington on Saturday was more than a little significant.

Stable jockeys are almost a thing of the past. Beating Weir when he has the two favourites is also rare. Jockeys began to feel stable rider roles restricted their opportunities and trainers, and owners, began to crave choice.

So when Moroney approached Moloney to be his stable rider about six months ago, both probably shook hands with some misgivings. A sluggish spring didn't ease them.

"It started off all right ... but we had a lot of bad luck," Moloney said. "If you're not getting results you start questioning yourself, and so would Mike and so would (owner) Rupert (Legh). But we've not changed anything, we've just stuck to our guns and the team is starting to build."

Moloney said riding almost solely for one trainer had risks, but ones he accepted.

"It's hard to commit to one stable and it's been really tough the last couple of months," he said.

"You're not networking; you're solely working with one team and if they're not performing, you're not performing. But you keep on getting out of bed and throwing punches."

So Tivaci's win in Saturday's listed race was both a relief and a sign of things to come.

"He's the starting point basically, the No.1 horse in the stable," Moloney said.

Tivaci is bred to stay but is a "sprinter-miler", according to stable manager Anthony Feroce, who said the horse might go into the March 11 Newmarket without another run.

Tivaci started at $17 yet produced a stinging finish over the 1000m to nail Weir newcomer El Divino, a half brother to Winx, by a long head.

El Divino was backed from $4.80 into $3.80 while stablemate Hellbent blew from $2 to $2.35.

Hellbent was stuck in a pocket and charged late, while Moloney was able to keep Tivaci in a pocket before stealing a winning break.