A whiz banger of a weekend as far as racing goes, will start with the Friday night meeting at Moonee Valley. The first of six Group One races to be competed over the weekend in various venues, the Manikato Stakes (a sprint over 1200 metres) is the feature event at the Valley. I intend to be there to witness it.
It has attracted a fabulous field, the leading lights being super Sydney mare More Joyous and top colt Sepoy - a mouth watering prospect. Pitted against these two is in form Sister Madly, the classy Kulgrinda who failed to run a place last start in the McEwan Stakes, which was won by Buffering who is also a contestant as is Atomic Force who ran third on that occasion behind Crystal Lily who tragically died suddenly of a heart attack in track work last week. Happy Zero who impressed with his looks when I saw him last at Moonee Valley is mooted as a top chance. I’ll be torn between More Joyous and Sepoy, so I hope one or other of them win. Sepoy will be competing in open company for the first time and ditto at Moonee Valley, so if he does win there can be no doubt as to his ability. Very few 3 year olds have won this race, but if any youngster was going to, Sepoy has to be the one.
The Group Two Stutt Stakes for 3 year olds over 1600 metres adds more interest to an evening of fine racing. Chase The Rainbow is the top pick in this, closely followed by Whisper Downs and Sabrage, though you’d think if I was choosing by name I’d go for Rock Musician, who on form is not totally without hope- for a place at least.
Also on the card on Friday evening is the Group Three JRA Cup a middle distance race over 2040 metres. With the scratching from this race of Rekindled Interest, Linton and Southern Speed in favour of running in the Turnbull Stakes on Sunday, the dwindled field is as open as it can be. Carnero who won me a tidy sum last time I attended the Valley, may be the one to beat, if he can run the distance. I rather fancy the Bart Cummings trained Cosmonaut who certainly should cope with 2040 metres. Domesky is favourite at the moment, but anything could win.
There’s also the Group 3 Champagne Stakes for 3 y o Fillies where Satin Shoes has a chance to redeem her recent losses. This is a much easier race for her than her last start in the McEwan Stakes, and she is the standout filly. Emerald Downs and Glissade are her main opposition, but mindful of lightly raced country track winners with hardly any form to judge, a challenge may be issued by Victoria Street or De Lilly Lightful.
The track is likely to be rated slow this evening, after a big downpour on Wednesday with further rain today threatening.
The AFL Grand Final will be dominating Victorians on Saturday, so the racing interest switches briefly to Sydney at Randwick, where a total of four Group One races is set to stir the blood of the racing fan. Flemington in Melbourne will feature the Group One Turnbull Stakes on Sunday to top it all off.
The first of the Group One races at Randwick is the Spring Champion Stakes, a 2000 metre race for 3 year olds. Top picks as far as I can work out are Darci Be Good, Rekindled Alliance, Doctor Doom, Ambidexter and Strike The Stars, who have all either won or have been the runners up recently.
The Epsom Handicap (1600 metres) has a large (16 runners) and interesting field with the likes of Sincero, who won the George Main Stakes, Pinker Pinker who is in great form, as is Foreteller despite his last run, and Pinnacles who ran second to Toorak Toff in the Rupert Clarke Stakes last Saturday. Also, as the track is likely to be heavy, one cannot discount Sacred Choice who has won in these conditions on a number of occasions.
Three year old fillies get their chance to win a Group One in the Flight Stakes (1600 metres). Top fillies like Streama who has won her last two outings, Hallowell Belle who has run three consecutive seconds, Roma Giaconda who was eye catching last week running second to Manawanui in the Stan Fox Stakes, Pane In The Glass always competitive, and New Zealand filly Dowager Queen, who may finally break through for a win in Australia, especially if the track is on the slow to heavy side.
Run over 2400 metres, The Metropolitan is a Group One race for stayers. There are 19 acceptors and Trusting , Tullamore and Lamasery appear to be the top picks with Sydney Cup winner Stand To Gain and Hawk Island maybe in with a chance.
I’m also interested in the Gimcrack Stakes, the first race on the card at Randwick on Saturday. It’s a 1000 metre race for 2 year old fillies, and one of the runners, My Shabella, is the daughter of my former favourite horse Haradasun, and is the first of his progeny to hit the track. She did very well in a trial recently and looks very promising, so I’ll be keenly watching her progress.
It has been raining in Sydney as well so tracks all round will be slow to heavy, and unpredictable results are to be expected.
In France early Monday morning our time, former Aussie champ So You Think will be contesting the Prix de L’Arc De Triomphe at Longchamp in Paris. Of course it is to be hoped that our boy can win this prestigious event.