The Group 2 Australia Stakes traditionally attracts a quality field of sprinters looking to kick-start their assault on a Spring Carnival campaign.
The mighty mare Black Caviar won the event in both 2010 and 2012, and while we might not have the likes of her running around on Saturday, some classy gallopers will contest the $200,000 feature to be run over 1200m at Moonee Valley.
Peter Moody, the trainer of the great mare, will once again saddle up an odds-on favourite in Dissident. The four-year-old returns to racing after bleeding for the first time during last year’s Group 1 Caulfield Stakes, incurring a mandatory three-month ban.
With the scratching of last year’s winner Richie’s Vibe, Dissident is now the $1.85 favourite with TAB.com.au. The son of Sebring produced back to back Group 1 wins in the Spring, taking out the Memsie Stakes and Makybe Diva Stakes, before he was beaten by the narrowest of margins in the Sir Rupert Clarke Charity Cup.
Dissident is untried at the tricky Moonee Valley circuit and has never won over 1200m, but if he can recapture the form he showed in the early part of last year’s Spring he should be too good for this lot.
The Group 2 Australia Stakes is set to jump at 4:35pm (AEDT). Tune in to to Sky Racing for all the action!
If ever It Is Written ($7.50) was going to win a Group 2 race, this is his chance. The six-year-old gelding is a Moonee Valley track specialist, with 6 of his 9 wins coming at the tight turning circuit. The Robbie Griffiths-trained galloper finished third in this event last year and will be looking to improve on that effort. He is a last start winner at the track and seems to grow an extra leg around this course; however he may need to grow two if he’s going to get past the favourite. I expect to see him in the minor placings.
Tudor ($4.60) has drawn well in barrier 3 and will look to punch through and vie for the early lead with Hard Stride ($5.50) who will jump from barrier 7. Tudor has a win and a second from 3 starts at the track but this is a step up in class and he will need the race run to suit if he’s to figure in the finish. Hard Stride has had four starts at the Valley for four seconds. His first up run behind the Quarterback up the Flemington straight had plenty of merit, though he is yet to fire second-up.
Check the full TAB.com.au market for the Group 2 Australia Stakes here.
The speed in the race will definitely be a factor. Last year’s G1 Goodwood winner Smokin’ Joey ($17) and Blackie ($31) will likely sit at the tail of the field and will be hoping for a hot tempo up front. The Wez Hunter-trained Smokin’ Joey is a proven Group 1 performer and if he’s at his best he certainly has a class edge on the majority of this field. At $17 he’s definitely one to include in the exotics.
If Dissident is anywhere near his best I expect him to win and win comfortably. I’ve got him on top to beat It Is Written, Smokin’ Joey and Hard Stride.
Make sure you’re watching Sky Racing this Saturday for all the action!
G3 - The Majordomo Hospitality Handicap Steeple Chase
G2 - Prix Raoul Balliere
G2 - Prix Ariste Hemard
G3 - Victress Stakes
G2 - Premier Trophy