One should always venture to a Moonee Valley race meeting with a degree of caution and trepidation. After all, the saucer-shaped track is renowned as “a racetrack for punters, designed by bookmakers”. That reputation seems to stand true more often than not, with value runners and the occasional despised outsider tipping the experts on their heads. Regardless, we resilient punters march back to the fray with a head full of knowledge and a pocket full of money, representing hope. Friday’s Moonee Valley meeting offers the best of both worlds with the former Japanese galloper, Brave Smash, looking unbeatable in the feature event – the Australia Stakes – and plenty of value on offer across the other seven races.
The Weather Bureau has forecast a 30% chance of showers and the outside prospect of a thunderstorm during the late afternoon. However, the evergreen Moonee Valley circuit with its tried-and-true drainage system is capable of withstanding almost anything nature can throw at it. And so, a Good 4 track is predicted, with the rail in the True position for the entire circuit.
QUADDIES (races 5,6,7,8)
Skinny Play: 1,6 – 2,5 – 7,9 – 7,9
Wide Play: 1,6,8 – 2,4,5,7 – 7,9,12,13 – 1,7,8,9,10
BEST BET: R4 – 1. BRAVE SMASH
Next Best Bet: R6 – 2. PREVAILING WINDS
Best Roughie: R7 – 13. AURORA ROSE
No7 SAM’S IMAGE Lightly-raced 3YO who should be right at his peak following three solid runs this campaign. Showed zip to lead throughout over the smart Nature Strip Super Bovis 3YO Hcp this trip Oct 27 then probably not suited by straight 1000m when ninth Prezado Flemington Nov. 7. Was tipped out straight after that race and a big first-up showing is expected with barrier 2 here.
No1 SUNDAY PRAY Smart type with four wins and three placings from 12 starts. Won successive starts 1300m Sandown Hillside Soft 5 Sept. 6 and Cranbourne 1400m BM70 Soft 5 Sept. 20 before working hard from wide draw and battling on strongly for 1.5 length fourth Sebring Dream 1600m here Oct. 6. Capable of sprinting well fresh with in-form Chelsea Hall in the saddle again.
No3 KAKANUI Should be at his peak following three runs since returning from injury. Sprinted clear final 50m to beat Belwazi and El Sicario 955m BM70 this track Dec. 15 then worked to line nicely to 1.8 length seventh El Sicario 1000m Sandown Hillside BM70 Dec. 30. Commands respect again.
No8 FRAULEIN RUSTIE Finished second this track at two of last four starts and bound to be handy for a long way. Fought on strongly for half-length second World Of Hope 955m Fillies & Mares BM70 Dec. 8 then fought back gamely when headed when 2.5 length fourth Deconi 1000m Sandown Hillside same class Good4 Dec. 30. Drop in weight an advantage.
VALUE RUNNER: No7 SAM’S IMAGE
No1 BELWAZI Way too good for Rockets Red Glare 1000m Cranbourne BM70 good4 Jan. 19. Had two wins and a second previous four runs, including win over World Of Hope with 55kg this trip Dec. 1 and unlucky 0.75 length second Kakanui with 57.5kg same class and distance Dec. 15. Racing in great heart and suited coming back to his favoured circuit.
No5 JOCASTA Improved by three close-up runs from a lengthy spell and is knocking on the door. Was doing best work at the finish when 5 length fifth Bella Martini 1200m Caulfield Mares BM70 then held up for a run in straight when solid 2.5 length fourth For A Song similar race with 56kg Jan. 17. Drops to 53.5kg with Ben Thompson’s claim here and will take tossing.
No6 SISTER KITTY MAC Placed at Werribee 1100m BM64 and Warrnambool 1100m BM70 two runs since beating Triage and Alaskan Sun 1000m here Soft5 Dec. 8 at $12 odds. Drops in weight here and Craig Williams booking is a significant jockey change. Keep safe.
No8 DIVERTENTE Runner-up at Mornington Dec. 13 and 1000m Sandown Hillside BM64 behind King of The Ark Jan. 10 since beating Our Bridgette 1000m Yarra Valley 0-58 Hcp Soft6 Nov. 25. Having first start in new stable of Nick Ryan and definitely one to watch.
VALUE RUNNER: No8 DIVERTENTE
No1 BRAVE SMASH (BEST BET) Former top-line galloper from Japan who simply looks too good for this lot based on his courageous third to Redzel and Vega Magic 1200m The Everest Randwick Good3 Oct. 14. Beat El Divino 1200m Listed Race this circuit Sept. 9 and unlucky photo-finish second Bons Away Listed Testa Rossa Stakes Caulfield 1200m Sept. 29 previous runs. Has experience on this track and definitely the one to beat.
No2 KEN’S DREAM Could not have been more impressive than last start when he tailed-off down the straight before unleashing a paralyzing final 250m to scorch Demonstrate and Thermal Current 1100m Flemiington Soft5 Jan. 13. That was his second run after a 22 week break and he will strip even fitter for this. Racing at Weight-for-Age is not ideal but he has an imposing record of four wins and five placings in 15 starts and should add to the positive tally here.
No4 MR SNEAKY Produced two wins at Caulfield over 1200m and seconds to Theanswermyfriend 1400m Listed Sofitel Flemington Sept 16 and to Santa Ana Lane G1 Rupert Clarke Stks 1400m Caulfield Oct. 1 before aiming too high when 12th Tosen Stardom G1 1600m Toorak Hcp Caulfield Oct. 14. Has won at two of three first-up runs and is a horse showing remarkable improvement in each campaign. Must be respected with “gun” Damian Lane in the saddle.
No5 THRONUM Impressive record of four wins and three placings from nine starts but facing a stiff rise in grade here. Bolted in over Go Down 1100m Bendigo BM78 Nov. 1 at first run for 12months, then worked home solidly for photo third Jungle Edge 1300m G3 Heffernan Stks Sandown Hillside Soft 5 Nov. 18. Likely improver who cannot be left out of calculations.
VALUE RUNNER: No4 MR SNEAKY
No1 BURNING FRONT Evergreen front-running galloper who bounced back to his scintillating best when he fought off Chamois Road and Dollar For Dollar to win the 1400m Chester Manifold Listed Stakes Soft 5 Jan 13. Won this race last year and should have conditions to suit again here. Has won 19 races and loves this track. Hard to beat again.
No6 WIDGEE TURF He’s a real up-and-comer, as his six wins and three placings from 13 starts prove. Resumed with a barnstorming win over Moonlover 1300m Sandown Hillisde Heavy9 Dec. 2 before easily accounting for Amadeus with 57.5kg Good3 this circuit Dec. 23, then had to call on his fighting qualities to beat Royal Ace in a photo 1500m Caulfield BM84 Good3 Jan. 7. Weighted within 0.5kg of Burning Front here but keeps improving.
No8 AMADEUS Model of consistency. Speared away from Willi Willi and Burning Front 1400m Pakenham VOBIS Soft6 at $11 Dec. 9 then fought hard but no match for winner when 2.5 length second Widgee Turf 1500m here Good3 Dec. 23. Only meets Widgee Turf 1kg better here so hard to see him turning the tables and meets Burning Front 1kg worse for beating him by 4 lengths. Has to be considered in the chances.
No4 ZEBRINZ Caught the eye first-up as a $26 chance when he worked home well before peaking last 50m when 5.75 length third Ozi Choice, Lite’n In My Veins 1400m Sandown Hillside Good4 Dec. 30. Fitter now and will be running on.
VALUE RUNNER: No1 BURNING FRONT
No2 PREVAILING WINDS (NEXT BEST BET) Honest campaigner who had absolutely no luck when hopelessly pocketed in straight and 1.9 length seventh Sheriff John Stone 1200m Caul BM70 Jan. 7. Produced a first-up second to Echo Jet Sandown Lakeside 1200m Good3 Nov. 22 and a 5 length win over Chalcidian with 57.5kg 1200m Mornington BM64 Dec. 13 then just pipped by Onehundred Percent 1100m Caulfield BM70 with 59kg Boxing Day. Nicely placed in this company and with inside draw.
No5 ILLUMICON Put away after winning second start impressively 1300m Bendigo 3YO Maiden Soft5 Aug 13. From a strong stable and will be cherry-ripe for this first-up.
No7 WELD Had a soft “kill” on debut when he beat Simcha convincingly 1170m Echuca Maiden Dec. 31. Promising type who will be further improved and must be kept safe.
No4 MR SO AND SO Caught the eye when a close-up fourth to Kentucky Breeze 1400m Listed Hilton Stakes Flemington Nov. 11. Echuca 1400m Maiden winner previous start who will be nice and fresh for this trip. Respect.
VALUE RUNNER: No4 MR SO AND SO
No7 ROKDA KASBA Is accumulating a consistent racing record and will relish the step up to 2500m here, having won over 2600m in the past. Plugged away when 3 length third Civil Disobedience 2000m Mornington BM64 with 58kg Dec. 13 then led throughout and fought tenaciously to beat Marching On 2100m Sandown Lakeside BM64 Jan. 3. At peak following six lead-up races and drops 1.5kg on last-start win.
No9 DIAMOND GRACE Lightly-raced stayer showing plenty of promise but is taking on a herculean task trying to win first-up for 23 weeks over 2500m. Won successive races Bendigo 2400m Maiden Heavy8 July 7 and Sandown 2400m BM64 Soft6 over High Lago and King Valour July 26 before last-start third High Lago 2400m Sandown Lakeside BM70 with 55.5kg Aug. 16. Her task is made easier with only 52kg on her back with Steph Thornton’s claim.
No13 AURORA ROSE (BEST ROUGHIE) Has three wins and six placings from only 16 starts and has been showing plenty of fight in recent runs. Led clearly and gave nothing a chance when easy 3.3 length winner over Bulletproof 2360m Newcastle BM65 Good4 Dec. 23 then took led at 250m when game 2.5 length second under 60kg to Corrs 2447m Geelong BM64 Jan. 11. Meets Scraps 0.5kg better for beating him 1.5 lengths last run. Bound to give plenty of cheek with light weight.
No12 SCRAPS Gets in 4.5kg lighter than last start 4 length third Corrs 2447m Geelong BM64 Jan. 11. Racing consistently, including comfortable 1.25 length win over Seul Spirit 1900m Geelong Synthetic BM64 two runs back Dec. 3. Another good lightweight chance.
VALUE RUNNER: No13 AURORA ROSE
No9 KNIGHT COMMANDER Started favourite at each of three starts since impressive debut win over Tapestry Red 1100m Kyneton Maiden Nov. 8. Wide throughout when 2.5 length seventh Lady Magnus 1100m Werribee BM64 Dec. 24 then streaked away from Aerovictory, Windsor 1130m Geelong C1 Good4 with 59.5kg Jan. 11. Stable has a big opinion of this fellow and he will continue to improve. He’s the only horse in the race without any additional gear which shows he’s a genuine racehorse.
No7 STRYKINGLEE Model of consistency who deserves a change of luck. Battled on well when fourth Epic Moment 1200m Mornington with 58.5kg Dec. 27 then hit the lead at 200m when photo second Annrhon 1100m Flemington 58.5.kg Jan. 13. Will appreciate apprentice Brown’s 2kg claim here. Ideally drawn and will be hard to beat.
No8 BELIEVING Has been close-up without winning at three runs from a spell and should be at peak form for this. Showed good fighting qualities to bullock his way through gaps when 1.6 length fifth El Sicario 1000m Sandown Hillside BM70 with 56.5kg Dec. 30 then made gradual ground for 1.65 length fourth Annrhon with 55.5kg Flemington 1100m BM70 Jan. 13. Has to be considered.
No10 MENABREA Showed flashes of class last campaign, winning three of six starts and could give this a shake first-up. Burst through middle to just beat Jack Henry 1100m Bendigo BM64 Soft5 July 23 then raced flat and spelled after 13th Special Diva 1400m Heavy9 Sandown Lakeside Aug. 6. Keep safe.
VALUE RUNNER: No8 BELIEVING