There’s little doubt that the tricky Moonee Valley circuit claims more victims than the ‘Spanish Inquisition (remember Brave Smash), so let’s hope Cliff’s Edge can avoid the favourites curse on Friday night. After all, he deserves a change of luck after being absolutely ‘butchered’ in the Group 1 Australian Cup when he went way too fast in the middle stages, leaving nothing for the run home. With Jamie Mott taking over the reins in this week’s Group Two Alister Clark Stakes, we can expect the noted front-runner to adopt a more patient attitude and he should prove too classy for his rivals around The Valley’s tight 1600m course. If there is a danger to Cliff’s Edge – apart from the curse – it could come from Levendi, who also had a tale of woe from the Australian Guineas after being pole-axed by another runner turning for home. With the wind well-and-truly knocked out of his sails, it was no surprise to see him finish at the tail of the field. Expect a vastly improved showing from Levendi.
With only light showers predicted intermittently from the middle of the week, we can expect partly cloudy conditions and a Good4 racing surface.
QUADDIES (races 5,6,7,8)
Skinny Play: 1,4,5 – 2,5 – 1 – 11
Wide Play: 1,2,4,5,8 – 2,5,7,11,13 – 1,2,3,4 – 3,6,7,11,13,15
BEST BET: R7 – 1. CLIFF’S EDGE
Next Best Bet: R8 – 11. MUJAADIL
Best Roughie: R6 – 2. ROCK ‘N’ GOLD
No8 CALIFORNIASURPRISE Smart winner on debut Muswellbrook 2YO Soft 5 54kg Nov. 5 then spelled after fading 10 length sixth Secret Lady 1100m Rosehill Golden Gift Good3 Nov. 25. Improved by two recent trials and nicely placed in this grade. By I Am Invincible out of Perth Magic Millions winner Camporella so she should go quick.
No2 CHESS STAR Gritty effort on debut when he sat deep and finished gamely for 0.4 length second to Zizzis 1000m Bendigo 2YO Maiden with 58kg Good4 Feb. 28. Zizzis franked that form by winning at Morphettville last Monday. Rates highly.
No7 STARVIRGO Zoustar youngster making debut. Trial form is impressive and must be kept safe here.
No12 YULONG MONOCEROS Just behind the placings at two runs before a 16-week spell. Battled on well for 4.8 length fifth Long Leaf 1000m Sandown Merson Cooper Stks Soft5 Nov. 18. This is easier.
VALUE RUNNER: No8 CALIFORNIASURPRISE
No4 DIVINE COMMAND Has a win at Ararat 1600m and four placings from last five starts and rates highly again. Chased Vungers this trip with 55kg Good4 Feb. 23 then held up for run when game 1.75 length second Ceylon this grade and trip Mar. 2 with 52kg. Has same weight and conditions to suit.
No6 ISLE OF CAPRI Placed two of four starts since winning 1400m Maiden Newcastle Good3 58kg Dec. 26. Close second Macattack 1600m Sandown BM64 Good3 Feb. 14 then wide when 2.15len fifth Ceylon this trip with 55kg Mar. 2. Likely improver.
No7 THREE STRYKES Ballarat 1400m BM58 winner three runs back and meets Divine Command on same weight terms for a head when third Ceylon this trip Mar. 2. Has to be considered.
No1 ASHLEE MARIE Fitter for four runs and nearing a win. Collared by Ceylon 1600m Pakenham BM78 Mares with 59kg Feb. 8 then 1.25 length second Miss Danni 2100m Sandown with 58.5kg Good3 Feb. 14.
VALUE RUNNER: No1 ASHLEE MARIE
No1 DOOGANS RISE Model of consistency who has the speed to get across from the wide barrier here and should prove hard to run down. Game len third Mutarakem BM70 this trip with 59.5kg Feb. 16 then fought on gamely for 2.45len fourth Raindrops On Roses 2500m Stayers Final with 53.5kg Good3 Mar. 2. Has won six races around this distance and much better suited.
No7 SKILLED HUNTER Not far away two runs on Soft5 Warrnambool 2400m and 2350m in Feb. before bouncing back with barnstorming win over Beach God 2000m Ararat BM58 Good4 last Friday. Should have conditions and distance to suit and will take tossing on quick back-up.
No11 HIGH SIERRA Made steady progress to break his maiden at fourth start over 1856m Terang March 1. On the improve so keep safe.
No9 ZANAHARY Won Moe 2050m Maiden and Yarra Valley1968m BM64 before having hard run when 7len third Skilled Hunter 2000m Ararat last Friday. Meets Skilled Hunter 1kg better here.
VALUE RUNNER: No7 SKILLED HUNTER
No10 DOVES CRY Promising type with two wins at Ballarat and a Moonee Valley second from only three starts. Game effort when 1.25 length second Twitchy Frank 3YO fillies BM64 Dec. 15 then freshened to beat Diamond Spinner 1200m Ballarat Good4 with 59kg Feb. 13. Kept fresh for this and should get a trail across the field from wide gate. Winkers and tongue tie go on here.
No1 SISTER KITTY MAC Has wins over 1000m and 955m this track from last six starts and will take catching despite wide gate. Not disgraced when last of five 3.35len to Dance With Fontein BM84 Mares here Feb. 16 then game half-length second Sabotage this trip with 53kg Mar. 2.
No14e RUCHLA Solid first-up second to Over And Above 1200m Sandown Lakeside Maiden 56kg Feb. 7 then over raced in front but still too good for Mylex 1400m Fillies Maiden Pakenham Good4 57.5kg Mar. 1. Improving type and Craig Williams goes back on here.
No6 SCOLIARO Led when half-length second Heptagon 1200m Sandown Firm2 BM64 56kg Feb. 14 then charged home to beat Borrow BM64 this trip 56kg Mar. 2. Drawn to get the gun run.
VALUE RUNNER: No1 SISTER KITTY MAC
No1 ASHLOR Brilliant speedster with six wins from 11 starts and did win this course first-up last campaign over 1200m. Unplaced in top 3YO company at Flemington two runs after beating Benz 1200m Morphettville BM90 with 54kg May 13. Improved by two recent trials and Talia Hope’s 3kg claim will help.
No5 KHAN Looked Golden Slipper bound after impressive debut win in the 1000m Breeders’ Plate at Randwick but subsequent form tapered off. Transferred to Perth’s Gangemi stable since last to White Moss 1100m Canterbury Oct. 4. Fitter for three recent trials in Sydney and should be kept under notice.
No4 GIBBON Honest campaigner who put the writing on the wall with first-up third Angry Gee this trip Feb. 2 and 0.75 length second Hay Bale 1000m here Feb. 16. Freshened for this and will be rocketing home.
No2 RUNSON Has won five races over 1000m although latest form over slightly longer trips. Beat Epic Moment 1400m Caulfield BM70 61.5kg Jan. 27 then ninth Coldstone 1400m Flemington Feb. 17. Respect.
VALUE RUNNER: No4 GIBBON
No5 SWORD OF LIGHT Raced in Group company, including win over Swampland G2 1400m Flemington last Spring. Resumed with eye-catching 3 length 11th Russian Revolution G1 1100m Oakleigh Plate Caulfield 53.5kg Feb. 24. Struck trouble at her only run this course and although the wide barrier is against her, Craig Williams goes on for the first time. Classy mare.
No2 ROCK ‘N’ GOLD (BEST ROUGHIE) Form hard to fault before beating Husson Eagle 1000m Listed race Flemington 54kg Jan. 20 at $17 then freshened and beaten only 2.45len behind Russian Revolution Group 1 Oakleigh Plate 1100m Caulfield Feb. 24. Goes well here but barrier is main worry. Represents value.
No13 LAND OF PLENTY Has good form around Dollar For Dollar, finishing 1.5 length second to him 1400m Flemington Nov. 7 and 1.9 length fourth Sandown Stks Soft5 Nov. 18 before spell. Also chased home Group 1 winners Redkirk Warrior and Scales Of Justice 1200m G2 Bobbie Lewis Flemington last Sept. One to watch.
No7 OAK DOOR Beat Oberland and Ruettiger first-up over this trip four runs back Aug. 26. Resumed again with game photo-finish second Stellar Collision 1200m Listed Race Caulfield Firm2 54kg Dec. 26 then over raced when 12th Care To Think 1400m Gold Coast Jan. 13. Two recent trials will have him cherry ripe for this.
VALUE RUNNER: No2 ROCK ‘N’ GOLD
No1 CLIFF’S EDGE (BEST BET) Was absolutely slaughtered when the jockey led by 4 length middle stages and capitulated to 4.7 length seventh Grunt 1600m Group 1 Australian Guineas Flemington Mar. 3. Won Group 3 Manfred Stks first-up 1200m Caulfield Feb. 3 before 0.75 length second to Grunt Group 3 CS Hayes Stks Flemington Feb. 17. Led until final 20m when 2 length sixth Tosen Stardom Group 1 Emirates Stks 2000m Flemington Nov. 11. None of these would even get into that race. He should bounce back to winning form here.
No3 LEVENDI Winner of the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes at Flemington last spring, returned with an encouraging 3 length fifth to Holy Snow in the Group 2 Autumn Stks at Caulfield Feb. 10 then was knocked sideways on the turn and put out of business when last to Grunt in the 1600m Group 1 Australian Guineas. He’s a very promising type who will bounce back to his best in this.
No2 ASTORIA Resumed with a game 2.5 length third Holy Snow Group 3 Autumn Stakes Caulfield Feb. 10 then made up ground for 1.75 length second Valiant Spirit 1800m G2 Autumn Classic Caulfield Feb. 24. Model of consistency and bound to give a good sight.
No4 SALSAMOR Resumed with a solid 0.75 length second King’s Command 1400m Sandown Firm2 Feb. 14 then only plugged home for 5.65 length ninth to Grunt 1600m Group 1 Australian Guineas Flemington Mar. 3. Will strip fitter and should be included in multiples.
VALUE RUNNER: No3 LEVENDI
No11 MUJAADIL (NEXT BEST BET) Placed first three starts at Ararat, Sandown and Caulfield before easily accounting for Full Of Theories 1600m Pakenham Maiden 58kg Good3 last Thursday. Promising type who should go on with the good work now that he’s found the winning post. Having in-form jockey Mark Zahra in the saddle is an added bonus.
No13 MOGHUL EMPIRE Improved from his debut second to Eldesperado 1712m Gawler Maiden 58kg Jan. 21 with a barnstorming 8 length win over Sweet Kaiser 1500m Gawler Maiden 58kg Good4 Mar. 7. Has plenty of ability and looks one of the main chances here with Andrew Mallyon on board.
No15 AEROVICTORY Racing consistently and will be in the finish again. Runner-up to Tonteria 1212m Kilmore BM58 Soft5 Feb. 1 then fought on too well for King Kohei 1400m Werribee BM58 Good4 60.5kg Feb. 16.
No3 REIDY Close-up three runs since winning 1500m Yarra Valley BM64 Dec. 22. Came home hard to finish within a length to Peruggia when fourth in a bunched finish over this trip Mar. 2. Has each-way claims.
VALUE RUNNER: No15 AEROVICTORY