A crack field of some of the best gallopers Australia has to produce will be out on show this Saturday at Moonee Valley to contest the $250,000 Group ll Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m). Fiorente won the race 12 months ago and went on to win the Melbourne Cup, while Green Moon finished second in the 2012 edition before winning on the first Tuesday in November, so this is a key race when looking towards the better races in the upcoming weeks.
The other highlight will be the return of the worlds best sprinter, Lankan Rupee, in the $200,000 Group ll Mitty’s McEwen Stakes (1000m). The superstar gelding hasn’t raced since his dominant T.J. Smith Srakes (1200m) triumph during the Championships but has looked sharp at the trials, jumpouts and in a gallop on Tuesday the Valley.
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Race One (12:30pm) : 1PRINT Craig Opie Cup (96) 2500m: Form Guide
Back Me: Going to give De Fine Lago (Best Odds: $9.50) another chance here in what looks to be a really tough race to sort out. He was on the seven day back up from Caulfield when racing over this track/distance a fortnight ago and he was there to win on the turn, but just got weary late and ran fifth. I thought there was merit in the run and he looked pretty sharp in a trial at Cranbourne on Monday. I’m getting the slight sniff of a Smerdon stable plunge here!
Big Danger: Unchain My Heart (Best Odds: $6.00) has had two runs back from a freshen up following her second successive Andrew Ramsden triumph and last time out at Caulfield, she stuck on quite well behind Bagman. She generally struggles at Caulfield, and on occasions at this track also, but she is racing so well at the moment and is one inform horse you know will run a very strong 2500m.
Roughie: Count Encosta (Best Odds: $2.70) has rejuvenated his career with Darren Weir, and did grind out a tough win from the back here a fortnight back, although admittedly he was a touch lucky to win (Wrotham Heath supporters will agree). This is his biggest test to date since being under the care of Weir, but who are we to doubt the master horseman?
Race Two (1:00pm) : Quest Moonee Valley Handicap (90) 1600m: Form Guide
Back Me: Text ‘N’ Hurley (Best Odds: $3.50) is on the Caulfield Cup path and while she probably lacks the class to be a force in the great race, she certainly showed she has come back in ripping order with a slashing seventh in the Aurie’s Star to Tiger Tees, then was very good through the line last week behind Henwood. Unbeaten at the track, and if she is indeed going towards the Caulfield Cup, she’d want to perform very well here. And I think she will.
Big Danger: Reckless Assassin (Best Odds: $5.00) has been given two absolute peach steers at her past two outings by Regan Bayliss and Tom Sadler, both of which have resulted in very impressive wins. They were both on her home track, but she comes to the Valley now, where she is two from two, so she ticks plenty of boxes. The one box that isn’t ticked is 2000m back to a mile. If she can overcome that, she’ll go very close.
Roughie: Acapela (Best Odds: $11.00) wound up solidly enough last time out at Caulfield behind Spirits Of Heaven, but that horse had a charmed run outside a very slow tempo, and the backmarkers really had no winning chance, so you have to forgive Acapela. In saying that, she is becoming costly, so this is close to D-Day for her, but if anyone can wave the magic wand, it’s Chris Waller.
Race Three (1:35pm) : City Jeep Handicap 1500m: Form Guide
Back Me: Well if you backed Caveka (Best Odds: $2.90) in the McKenzie Stakes here a fortnight back, it was just a complete nightmare to watch. She got bailed away near the inside and never ever looked like getting a run, and pretty much went to the line under a hold. Her debut win on the Geelong Synthetic prior to that was very classy, so I think if she gets normal luck here, she’ll just about take care of these.
Big Danger: Lotion (Best Odds: $16.00) is a pretty faultless customer for the Hayes/Dabernig team- she jumps, puts herself in the right position and keeps finding, as she did last time out at Sportingbet Park when narrowly beaten by Samartested in a close finish. She can handle sting out of the ground and will be out trouble on the speed.
Roughie: Breath Of Life (Best Odds: $4.40) was smashed in betting last time out at Seymour and she didn’t let her supporters down with a dominant win, running good time, despite wanting to pull quite hard early on. She has a stack of upside and is in the right stable of Robert Smerdon. She will get every chance from the rails draw and is right in contention.
Race Four (2:10pm) : Jeep Don’t Hold Back Handicap (84) 2040m: Form Guide
Back Me: Lankan Rupee is the good thing on the card, but the best bet on the program for me is Wrotham Heath (Best Odds: $3.00) here. His two runs back from a freshen up have been fantastic. He did a power of work at Flemington and was only picked off late, then came here and a combination of bad luck and perhaps bad judgement from Dwayne Dunn cost him victory. He should have bolted in, but never got a crack at them. Dunn gets his chance to redeem himself, and I am very confident he can in what looks to be a pretty ordinary race outside him and maybe one or two others.
Big Danger: Vizhaka (Best Odds: $8.00) bounced back to winning form with a brilliant win at Sportingbet Park. The win had more merit given the horse was on one rein in the straight and refused to race truly under Brad Rawiller. Now that he has found his best form, he returns to his favourite track, so he does come under consideration.
Roughie: Warwarwick (Best Odds: $9.50) didn’t have much luck when running over the mile here a fortnight back when a two length sixth to Relentless in a bunched finish. She is a mare that prefers to race outside horses and get a clear crack at them, as we saw three back when winning over 1600m here in a pretty strong race. Up to 2040m is a big tick and gets the weight relief.
Race Five (2:45pm) : Mitty’s McEwen Stakes 1000m: Form Guide
Back Me: Lankan Rupee…(Best Odds: $1.32) need we say anymore? World’s best sprinter, has looked sharp in trials, jumpouts and exhibition gallops, suited at WFA, great record at the track, first up and at 1000m…will be Black Caviar-esque odds, but it’ll be the same result- a win.
Big Danger: Eloping (Best Odds: $8.50) was one of the better two year olds last season, constantly racing well at the highest level, and picking up a couple of nice wins along the way. The highlights were her Blue Diamond Preview triumph and a win in the Keith McKay at Randwick during the Championships. Her trial win was sharp and you know with her she’ll be out of trouble on the speed.
Roughie: Unpretentious (Best Odds: $13.00) resumes here, and you’d have to say, this is his prep to show something really good, because we know the ability is there, but injury and next to no luck has riddled his career. He was well held by Lankan Rupee the last time they met, in the Newmarket, and despite the weight pull in his favour, he won’t be turning the tables. Still, a suck run behind the speed and he could place.
Race Six (3:25pm) : Telstra Phonewords Handicap 1200m: Form Guide
Back Me: Kalabek (Best Odds: $14.00) wasn’t too bad I thought in the Quezette. She also got a long way back and took forever to wind up, but her last 150m or so was excellent and a good pointer heading forward. Definitely looking for more than 1200m, but a fast run race will suit her perfectly.
Big Danger: Of the jumpout horses coming into this, the clear one to follow is Pickin’ Time (Best Odds: $4.00) for Bossy and Kav. She has been simply outstanding at the jumpouts on her home track at Flemington and looks ready for a big Spring. Her two runs in the Autumn were good and there was money for her on both occasions, so where there is smoke, there is fire. Big watch first up.
Roughie: London Lolly (Best Odds: $8.50) took a sit when resuming in the Quezette and I don’t think that’s her go. She battled on okay but was a beaten horse a fair way from home. She is far better when she pings from the barriers and controls the race from the front, so expect Dunn to be more aggressive early on here, and she did win a stakes race over this track/distance on William Reid Night.
Race Seven (4:00pm) : Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes 1600m: Form Guide
Back Me: I was very impressed by the win of Star Rolling (Best Odds: $4.60) first up in the P.B. Lawrence. He did a stack of work from the wide gate to sit outside the speed, then wanted to pull hard in the run. He was left in front at the top of the straight, and was a sitting duck for the others, but he kept finding under the urgings of Steve Baster and toughed it out very strongly. He worked on Tuesday at the Valley and clocked the fastest final split of the morning. He is ticking over beautifully and will take some beating here.
Big Danger: Foreteller (Best Odds: $6.00) also resumed in the P.B. Lawrence and really caught the eye late, flashing home between runners for fourth. He is another who worked well enough earlier in the week, and his lone here was in the Cox Plate last year, where he was just about the best of the beaten brigade outside the top three. If he can get a cart into the race, he will let them know he is there.
Roughie: Great to see the Tassie bulldog, The Cleaner (Best Odds: $4.60), get his chance to shine on the big stage. His form this campaign certainly warrants it. He was very brave when runner up to Limes first up, then bolted in here before running second in the Winter Championship, then coming back here and showing great fight to win. WFA suits him, he’ll lead, roll along…we know how tough he is. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares.
Race Eight (4:40pm) : Sportingbet Handicap 1600m: Form Guide
Back Me: No reason why Henwood (Best Odds: $5.00) can’t win again. He showed he could handle a seven day back with no worries when he proved too good for his rivals last week at Caulfield after racing here the week prior. Draws well again, Regan retains the ride, in form…ticks all the boxes. Hard to beat.
Big Danger: Forgive and forget that Our Voodoo Prince (Best Odds: $6.00) went around first up in the Show County at Randwick. He never looked comfortable on the heavy going and just couldn’t show any dash when asked. Back onto a firmer surface helps, as does returning to Melbourne, and he was most impressive second up last time in. However, to warrant consideration in the big races, he would want to show something here.
Roughie: St Jean (Best Odds: $4.40) was one of the better backed runners here a fortnight back when racing over 1500m in open company, but he just got too far back and was carted wide on the turn, but he picked up late and was very good though the line. Unbeaten second up, drawn well and is on the minimum. He’ll take a stack of beating.
Race Nine (5:15pm) : Drummond Golf Stakes 1200m: Form Guide
Back Me: Lion Of Belfort (Best Odds: $13.00) kicked off his career this time last year, winning at the Geelong Synthetic before winning at this track, then winning at stakes level at Caulfield before running third to Zoustar in the Coolmore Stud. He had two runs in the Autumn, and it was fair to say he was poor, although the two winners of those respective races were Lankan Rupee and Not Listenin’tome. His trial a couple of weeks back was strong, and the night he did win here, he looked very good. Repeat that and he is right in the mix.
Big Danger: Solsay (Best Odds: $8.50) is almost the new version of Dandy Kid, the record holder of the most wins at this track. Solsay absolutely loves here and he was excellent last time out here. He looked the winner everywhere apart from the last stride or two when nailed by tough gelding Trust In A Gust. With the good draw and the services of Tommy, I’m confident he can turn the tables on that horse, and certainly go close here.
Roughie: Take nothing away but from Trust In A Gust (Best Odds: $4.80). He was fantastic in winning here given he was first up and three wide with no cover outside a genuine speed. Another horror draw here, but he is so versatile and so consistent, that if you back him, you know you’ll get a genuine run for your money.
BEST BET: Race Four Number 4 Wrotham Heath
NEXT BEST: Race Three Number 2 Caveka
VALUE: Race Nine Number 9 Lion Of Belfort
Quaddie Tips (Races Six Through To Nine):
Leg One: 1, 8, 9, 10
Leg Two: 1, 2, 4, 6, 9
Leg Three: 1, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12
Leg Four: 1, 5, 9, 11, 12, 13
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All odds are subject to change. Odds listed are correct at the time of the latest update.
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