The Mounting Yard’s second favourite day on the Australian racing calendar has arrived: Cox Plate Day!
The premier weight-for-age championship of the world has arrived and Japanese raider Lys Gracieux is the $3.80 favourite. We’ve got the best edition of both the Moonee Valley Cup and the Crystal Mile we’ve had in years to support the main event. The rail is true and we should either be on a Good 4 to Soft 5 range depending on the weather on Friday and Saturday. Let’s get cracking!
The $500,000 Inglis Banner kicks off proceedings over 1000 meters. Legitimately anything could happen in this race but I was surprised to see Bella Nipotina open up at $14 after what I thought was a very encouraging debut. She just had no luck in the straight and got chopped off about three times before she balanced up and come again late to finish on the heels of the placegetters. She should have learnt a lot off that debut run and she draws perfectly here (5) to run a big race at odds.
It’s a Deel looks like a big danger on the back of a big trial win. He showed great acceleration late in that trial and he beat Tanker, who won by three lengths on debut a fortnight ago. Awkwardly drawn (9) and will need a good steer from Hugh Bowman. Mildred is two from two and draws the rails (1) again so should be able to dictate terms. There’s no reason why she can’t win again.
Recommended bet: Each-way play on No. 10 Bella Nipotina.
We’ve got a 955-metre handicap here in the second. There are only six horses in the field which always makes it tricky. Not a race I’m keen to bet in, but the best form line seems to be out of the Apache Cat Classic. Fine Dane won on resumption at Sandown before struggling in a much better race than this over the same track and distance two starts back. He battled brilliantly in the Apache Cat behind Tavisan, finishing 0.5 lengths away. He’s drawn awkwardly (7) but he has to be a chance.
All over Bosanova was a winner three starts back in South Australia. She was good in the Apache Cat last start running in restricted room and she draws all the favour from the good gate (1). I don’t lay horses to lose but there’s a good opportunity for those that do in regards to Esperance. He wasn’t winning Benchmark 74 races in Sydney last preparation and he seemed to hate the Valley last preparation as well. Wouldn’t be touching him at the even money quote.
Recommended bet: Leave this one alone.
The Group 2 Fillies Classic over the mile is the next race to assess. It looks like they’ll go extremely slow out in front but I’m going to side with Asiago. She could push up and race on the speed from the low draw (3) and she’s absolutely flying this preparation. She won by a length over Pandano at Newcastle two starts back, who has since gone on to win two on the trot, and it’s hard to see Nudge, who she beat last start and faces again here, turn the tables on her. That last start win was over 1400 metres and I think she will be a lot better getting out to the mile. She goes on top in a wide-open race.
Fascino was incredibly unlucky two starts back at Caulfield behind Excused and Deserved before leading all but on the line in the Edward Manifold. She’s tested at the mile and should get a nice run. Beauty Bolt has some X factor about her. She finished only two lengths off them two starts back after travelling wide without cover and she ran on well in the Edward Manifold. The valley doesn’t suit but she is going to break through for a big win soon.
Recommended bet: Backing No. 5 Asiago on an each-way basis.
The William Crockett Stakes at listed level for fillies over 1200 metres awaits punters here. This is a high-quality race with some very progressive fillies taking part. None are more progressive than Villami, who looks very hard to beat. She’s come back brilliantly, running Libertini to within 0.2 lengths in the Furious Stakes. She’s among the best three-year-olds in the country, so obviously that’s a very strong form reference. She comes from the Valley in the Scarborough, where she was off the track the whole way without cover and still finished half a length of Loving Gaby and Exhilarates. It’ll be easier for her to get across today and she’ll be very hard to run down with James McDonald taking the ride.
Hint of Mint looks very progressive. She won on debut at Kyneton with ease before beating a very smart one in Night Passage last start. The horse, who narrowly lost to Night Passage on debut, won by four lengths at Ballarat on Thursday, so it seems like the form line is strong. Wayupinthesky and Don’ttelltheboss have claims as well if they can improve.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 3 Villami.
The Red Anchor Stakes at Group 3 level over 1200 metres is the next on the card. I’m going to have a throw at the stumps here and back a couple at double-figure odds. One of them is Lucifer’s Reward. He’s got a big heart, this horse, and he just never stops trying. He closed off really well behind Garner and Sartorial Splendor two starts back at Caulfield over 1000 metres before again closing steadily behind Tarayeef down the straight at Flemington last start. It looks like he’s been crying out for the 1200 metres and he maps to get a lovely run behind a very hot speed. He’s overs at $11.
I’ll also have something small on Cielo D’oro. He won against the pattern on debut when coming from back in the field at Geelong before running on strongly to finish third behind Rumble Doll last start. The wide barrier should give him clear galloping room and the blinkers being applied should sharpen him up. Heyington Station and Condo’s Express can’t be discounted.
Recommended bet: Backing both No. 2 Lucifer’s Reward and No. 7 Cielo D’Oro each-way.
The Moonee Valley Vase is the next on the program, over 2040 metres for the three-year-olds. It’s a wide-open race but Independent Road appeals on an each-way basis. He has been building into his preparation nicely. He came home really well over 1400 metres when he was second-up to finish two lengths behind Legionnaire and his last run in the Super Impose was terrific. He tracked the speed in that race and got posted four wide without cover yet still managed to beat everyone bar Warning home (who has run well again since). He rises to the 2000 metres today, which seems ideal for him, and he should get a much better run. He’s good value.
Battenburg is the short-priced favourite. I can’t have him at the $2.40 personally, but I can see the appeal. He will sit on the speed from the good draw (2) and his run behind the now Derby favourite in Shadow Hero was full of merit. Serious Liaison was desperately unlucky in the Derby trial two starts back and he came from the clouds to win at Caulfield last start. He’ll need luck from the inside gate (1) but the blinkers going on should sharpen him up.
Recommended bet: Each way bet on No. 2 Independent Road.
The Moonee Valley Cup over 2500 metres at Group 2 level is the seventh on the program. Mr Quickie looks extremely hard to beat here. Drawing the rails (1) is a curse for him but it is hard to ignore his form lines in this preparation. He resumed in superb fashion flashing home for third behind Gatting and Mystic Journey before hitting a flat patch after getting into a bumping duel with Mystic Journey again in the Turnbull. He just had no luck whatsoever in the Caulfield Cup, and I still maintain that if he gets a run, he finishes at a minimum in the top four. He’s the best horse in this field by a fair margin and if he has any luck from barrier one, he will be winning.
Sully seems like the best value. His last two runs have been brilliant. He got nosed out in a photo finish at this track two starts back before running third, three lengths off Prince of Arran last start, who went on to run the quickest Geelong Cup time in 15 years on Wednesday. He’ll get a lovely run on the speed and could be hard to catch. The overseas raiders in Downdraft and Hunting Horn can’t be underestimated.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 6 Mr Quickie.
We’ve got a brilliant edition of the Crystal Mile here and I’m happy to back two runners on an each-way basis. One of them is Sikandarabad. He’s munched a fair bit of my money this preparation, but I’m going to stick with him again here. He was brilliant at this track when second-up when he flashed home off a slowly run race. He was just ridden upside-down after leading in the Foundation Cup. He flashed home again in the Toorak Handicap last start and this race just sets up perfectly for him with an extremely fast tempo being expected. With even luck he’ll be in the finish.
Chief Ironside is well overs and it’s worth having something on him. He came over here with good overseas form and he just had no luck at all when first up in the Toorak. He was tracking into that race beautifully until he just couldn’t get a run at them. He maps brilliantly to get a nice sit on the leaders and he is well over the odds at the $17 quote. Dreamforce and Madison County can’t be dismissed.
Recommended bet: Backing No. 10 Sikandarabad and No. 12 Chief Ironside each-way.
The premier weight-for-age championship of the world has arrived in the form of the 2019 Cox Plate. It’ll be a high-pressure Cox Plate, like they always are, and if the rain comes, Avilius is the one to beat. He ran on strongly in his first two runs this preparation on leader-biased tracks behind Samadoubt before getting a soft track and a genuine tempo in the George Maine, which he won by two lengths over Dreamforce and Happy Clapper. His run last start looked disappointing, but in reality he clocked a really good time late off a slowly run race that never gave him a chance. He draws well here to get a nice run in midfield, and if the rain comes, I’m even more keen.
I’m also having something small on Kluger. He was brilliant in Australia last preparation, flashing home for fourth in the Doncaster behind Brutal and then finishing a length off the champion Winx. He has good tactical speed, draws okay (9) and the connections think he is going better this time in. A replication of that run in the Queen Elizabeth would see him going very close. The other Japanese runner in Lys Gracieux can’t be discounted, nor can Mystic Journey, who will get the run of the race.
Recommended bet: Backing No. 2 Avilius and No. 3 Kluger each-way. Taking a wide trifecta which includes Nos. 2, 3, 9, 12 and 14.
The Tesio Stakes at Group 3 level over the mile is the last on the program. It’s a pretty tough race to ‘get out’ on. I’m going to back two at odds to try to send the punters home happy. Consensus seems over the odds at the $13 quote. She had a tough run at this track in the Stocks Stakes and I thought her effort to keep fighting to the line and only go down by 1.8 lengths was full of merit. She then went to Caulfield in the Ladies Day Vase and it took them the whole 1600 metres to run her down – she went down by 1.7 lengths there. In a race without any speed she’ll sit on the speed and could prove hard to run down.
I was on Snogging last start and I’m sticking with her again. She motored home nicely when resuming, running two lengths off Harbour Views. She’s another who was caught four wide without cover last start and I thought she showed a lot of heart to fight on. She’ll need some luck from the inside draw (2), but if she gets it, watch out. Music Bay and Girl Tuesday are the best of the rest but will need plenty of luck in running.
Recommended bet: Backing both No. 1 Consensus and No. 6 Snogging each way.
Best bet: Race 4, No. 3 Villami
Next-best bet: Race 7, No. 6 Mr Quickie
Best value: Race 6, No. 2 Independent Road; Race 8, No. 12 Chief Ironside
Race 7: Nos. 6, 4, 8
Race 8: Nos. 10, 12, 3, 13
Race 9: Nos. 2, 3, 9, 12
Race 10: Nos. 1, 6, 2, 4