The Cox Plate Carnival has arrived and for the first time in four years, it is without the champion Winx, perhaps for the better though. The Cox Plate is back to a big field and multiple chances and while we miss Winx, there’s something beautiful about the purity of an even weight-for-age classic.
Manikato Stakes night kicks off the weekend on Friday night but has suffered no doubt from the Everest being run last week. A severely weakened field will compete for the G1 title as many of the elite sprinters rest up for the VRC sprint on Stakes Day.
Mooney Valley – Friday Night
Race 7: Bivouac has been incredibly popular amongst punters and rightfully so, meaning he will be incredibly hard to beat. A genuine G1 runner in a field just a tad below his class. Has comfortable beaten Everest winner Yes Yes Yes in is last two outings and this field doesn’t measure up to that Everest group. Load up ($1.85 Playup). The Bostonian will be coming off the back of a good run in the Schillaci behind Trekking who had a huge run in the Everest. Loving Gaby was beaten but not disgraced at Caulfield, probably worth sticking with as an each-way chance if you liked her before that run.
Mooney Valley – Saturday
Race 5: Condo’s Express was quite impressive in Blue Sapphire after a lengthy gap between runs, has been excellent here in the past and that’s always a key at the Valley. Blinkers yes! Get on ($3.70 Playup). Sartorial Splendor led and was pipped when fresh, was 3-wide with no cover the last start and never found any luck, forgive that. Hearty Lass is lightly raced but was good when leading fresh, was pipped by Garner and that form has stood up. Won here after that and shouldn’t be discounted.
Race 6: Battenburg was swooped late last time out, one of the horses who passed him was Castelvecchio who will run in the Cox Plate. That was his first run at 2000m so he will be fitter for that. Soul Patch was brave and hit the line superbly in the Guineas, worked hard from a long way out and only Super Seth finished the last 200m quicker. Worth an each-way bet ($5 Playup). Serious Liaison won impressively last time as Caulfield. Has shown in his four starts he has class but will be tested by this opposition.
Race 7: Mr Quickie will be having another crack at making his way into the Melbourne Cup here, was great when fresh and got us all excited but his last two have been hard to watch. Has had no luck whatsoever, loomed as a real challenger in Caulfield Cup but couldn’t get out. Doubts on whether he will be right to run with vet check scheduled for Friday. Downdraft is the next best option if Mr Quickie doesn’t get up, Oz debut and he has excellent G1 form behind him. Run between Southern France and Master of Reality who went on to run 3rd and 5th in the Irish St Leger. ($4.80 Playup). Humidor was aiming for the Cox Plate and connections weren’t happy with the snub. Hasn’t had a superb prep but his best is good enough to smoke these.
Race 8: Gailo Chop will be popular on track and has been right in it all prep without scoring. Drops back to 1600m which may be too sharp but don’t rule out. Dreamforce had no luck in the Epsom and deserves forgiveness, just missed Avilius before that and easily beat Te Akau Shark before that run. Quality bet ($4 Playup). Sikandarabad hit the line well in the Toorak and loves it here, speed map will suit.
Race 9: Black Heart Bart keeps delivering this prep and after paying the late entry nomination fee connections will be praying for a top-four finish. If form is a real guide, he’s as good a value bet as anyone. Avilius was too wide last start and never got fully into his stride, was excellent in the wet in the win before that. Will be hoping for similar give. Homesman had been faultless in this campaign before last start, no excuses but wasn’t disgraced, think he’s showing overs. Te Akau Shark can’t find the line at the moment but will be right in this again. Epsom run was huge and is great value ($16 Playup). Japanese runner Lys Gracieux is all class, beat Kluger in Japan who made Winx fight tooth and nail to beat him. Deserved favourite, can the Japanese do it again? Mystic Journey hasn’t run since Turnbull where she ran against the pattern in first run at 2000m. Verry Elleegant will want some give in the track, but even without will have claims. Doubts whether she’s up to this class.
*All odds correct at time of writing.