RACE 1 – Listed Inglis Banner (1000m)
A number of first starters take the field in race 1 on Cox Plate day. In saying that, there was plenty to like about the debut of Setsuna in the Gimcrack Stakes and she would likely have won with any luck in running whatsoever. Gai Waterhouse has an excellent record when she brings two-year-olds to Melbourne and the stable has been absolutely flying over the past 12 months. One of the debutants could end up being a serious horse, but Setsuna is still worth a bet at the current price. Race experience is often key in the early 2yo events.
RACE 2 – Bendigo Bank Handicap (955m)
Badajoz is a clear favourite, but this is odd placement from James Cummings and he doesn’t look like a horse that will thrive over the 955 metre course at The Valley. Gun Case has an excellent record over the 955 metres at The Valley and he has been in excellent form this preparation. He ran serious time at both Morphettville and Balaklava before he was far from disgraced in the Apache Cat Classic at Cranbourne. He has the speed to cross this field from the wide barrier draw and he can return to winning form.
Sirbible failed to fire last preparation, but he has an excellent first-up record and on his best form he does have a class edge over the rest of this field.
After all that i’m very keen Thelburg, his first up form reads (3:1-1-0) the unplaced run was on a soft (6), his best form is on good ground (10:4-1-1). Prior to a spell he won at Bendigo and Caulfield and then ran third at Sandown to Cannyescent. In that race he carried 59kg only a 0.5kg below Cannyescent but drops to 54kg here. Have a look at Cannyescent’s form after that win, he won at Flemington and then ran second in the Aurie’s Star, beaten a half-head by Hey Doc, love the look of that form line. He’s drawn barrier three and I hope Craig Williams keeps him out a little as last year all the winners came wide.
RACE 3 – Group 3 Telstra Phonewords Stakes (1200m)
The Telstra Phonewords Stakes is another competitive race and there are number of horses in this field that you can make a case for. Single Bullet has been freshened-up since he finished second in the Roman Consul Stakes and he has the chance to return to winning form in the Red Anchor Stakes. The unbeaten Viridine is the only horse that has beaten Single Bullet this preparation and I like the fact that he has been freshened-up for this race.
RACE 4 – Listed Ladbrokes Crockett Stakes (1200m)
Demeara looks a star and has run serious time in her two race starts to date and she looks like a filly with an enormous future. If she brings her New South Wales form to The Valley she will be extremely tough to beat. The form coming out of her win at Rosehill Gardens has been excellent and she will make her own luck right on the speed with Brenton Avdulla in the saddle. She is one of the best bets on what is a fairly tough punting card.
RACE 5 – Group 3 Powerflo Solutions Stakes (1600m)
Invincibella has recorded two wins from as many starts and she will start this race as a clear favourite. There is no doubt that she is racing well this preparation, but this is a step-up in class and she will need some luck in running from the inside barrier draw. I am happy to oppose her at the current price.
Lubiton was tough when she was beaten by Invincibella at Royal Randwick last start and she has the chance to turn-the-tables on her rival. She makes her own luck right on the speed and she is a very consistent performer that always rates at a similar level.
The horse that appeals at big odds is French Emotion, she resumed at Flemington in the Blazer Stakes over 1400m when running on strongly and she has decent second-up form. Two runs back prior to her spell she drew the widest in the Tatts Tiara at Doomben. The winner Tycoon Tara led and controlled the race but this mare was more than acceptable despite the three length margin. Her last win was at Caulfield over this trip. The speed should be ok in this with Savapinski leading with Lubiton and Think Like A Bird keeping up. I envisage her settling back and if the pattern of racing is similar to last year she should swoop and be hard to hold out. Watch racing pattern.
RACE 6 – Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m)
Auvray resumed at Flemington in the Blazer Stakes over 1400m when running on strongly and she has good second-up form. Two runs back prior to her spell she drew the widest in the Tatts Tiara at Doomben. The winner Tycoon Tara led and controlled the race but this mare was more than acceptable despite the three length margin. Her last win was at Caulfield over this trip. The speed should be ok in this with Savapinski leading with Lubiton and Think Like A Bird keeping up. I envision her settling back and if the pattern of racing is similar to last year she should swoop and be hard to hold out. Key watch racing pattern.
RACE 7 – Group 2 italktravel Fillies Classic (1600m)
This is one of the trickiest races of the day and a fairly weak edition of the Fillies Classic. Banish is a filly that still some a fair bit of upside and she heads into this race off a fast-finishing at Cranbourne last start. She has drawn wide, but that could prove to be an advantage as she gets back anyway and the wide gate gives jockey Craig Williams the chance to start his run a long way from home. Mintha is the obvious danger, but in such a weak race im looking for the value on top weight I’ll have a Bit. Stripps fitter for one run at the mile and will find this easier.
RACE 8 – Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m)
The Crystal Mile is one of the most competitive betting races of the afternoon at The Valley. It has taken Darren Weir a while to get Burning Front fit this preparation, but he is a horse that thrives on the quick back-up and this is his chance to return to winning form. He was very tough in the Ladbrokes Moonga Stakes last weekend and it took a flying Ulmann to beat him.
It’s Somewhat was never able to get into the race in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes and he is a much better horse than that performance suggests. He won the Doncaster Mile second-up last campaign and he is a horse that usually takes a big step forward second-up. There is no jockey riding better than Kerrin McEvoy and he maps to get a lovely trail into this race just behind the speed. Before I expose the wallet I need to be sure the 16th race at the Valley in 14 days that the inside is user friendly. If it is, best bet on the card!
RACE 9 – Group 1 Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m)
The Ladbrokes Cox Plate will be a truly historic moment and everybody will be cheering Winx home in the Australasian Weight-For-Age Championship. It is incredibly tough to envision a scenario where she fails to win her third straight Cox Plate. There were a few racing experts that were quick to question how well Winx was going at the start of her 2017 Spring Racing Carnival, but she showed in the Turnbull Stakes that she is going as well as ever and it is scary to think what she could do this field in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate.
Winx has already scared majority of contenders off this field narrowing it down to 8, in what I deem the weakest most pathetic edition of the Cox Plate in recent memory.
For that reason alone, and the fact we all don’t have a million dollars to back Winx at $1.10 i’m going to point at a scenario she gets beat. Royal Symphony was jumping over there backs last start in the Guineas and crying out for this trip. At WFA gets in with 49.5 and could go forward and dictate terms, much similar to Foxplay a few runs back against the great mare.
Wishful thinking or Party spoiler…
RACE 10 – Group 2 Drummond Golf Vase (2040m)
This is a great way to finish an historic day of racing as Thousand Guineas winner Aloisia does battle with Ladbrokes Classic winner Cliff’s Edge. Cliff’s Edge could hardly have been more impressive in the Ladbrokes Classic last weekend and he has the benefit of a tough run over 2000 metres under his belt. He will make his own luck right on the speed and he will definitely give them something to catch. Aloisia is obviously a very talented filly and she still has upside from her Thousand Guineas win, but the Kennedy Oaks is her main target.
That aside Sanctioned presents well in this. He’s been a victim of poor draws in his last two runs but both efforts have had plenty of merit. In the Spring Champion Stakes he closed all the way to the line after being the last horse into the straight then last time out in the Caulfield Guineas, while he was never going to be a winning chance in than race, it was a better performance than an eighth placing. Again, forced to go back to last from the gate, Sanctioned was the first horse to get going and ran slick figures from the 1000 to 600m, was then held up in the straight and kept working to the line. He’s drawn more favourably this time and he’s a horse capable of racing just off the speed which are the tactics I expect they’ll adopt here. Has a solid foundation for the 2000m trip and I don’t think there should be anywhere near as much as there is between him and the two favourites in the market.