|What||Cox Plate Qualifier Day 2021|
|Where||Moonee Valley Racing Club – 1 McPherson St, Moonee Ponds VIC 3039|
|When||Saturday, September 4, 2021|
|First Race||12:30pm AEST|
|Feature Race||Group 2 Feehan Stakes – Race 8|
It is Feehan Stakes Day – aka Cox Plate Qualifier Day – at Moonee Valley this weekend, and HorseBetting’s Victorian racing expert presents his race-by-race preview and best bets for the nine-part card on Saturday afternoon. The track is rated a Good 4, but with plenty of rain forecast on Friday, it is expected we will be on a Soft 6 or 7 at best come race day. The rail will be in the true position for the entire circuit, while the first race is set to go at 12:30pm AEST.
Race 1: Super Vobis 3YO Handicap (1500m)
The opening event of the day sets a field of 11 three-year-olds against each other over 1100m, and Sandy Prince looks like he will take some beating. The Pride Of Dubai gelding from the Ben & JD Hayes stable is yet to run outside of the quinella in five career starts, with two wins and three second-place finishes to his name. Having won his last start in convincing fashion at Sandown, he steps up to Saturday company for the first time. Craig Williams sticks on board, which is a bonus, and barrier four should have Sandy Prince close to the speed throughout and ultimately proving too hard to run down in the opener.
Race 2: BM78 Handicap (1600m)
Alex Rae brings Chief Altony to The Valley following a complete forgive run at Sandown on August 25. The five-year-old son of Rebel Raider saw nothing but backsides in the home straight on that day and clearly had plenty left in the tank when going down by 2.5 lengths. He steps up to the mile, which is clearly his preferred distance; he has won twice and finished in the minor money on two other occasions from four starts at the trip. Having drawn wide in barrier 16, Jye McNeil should have no issue in keeping Chief Altony out of trouble. If he is within striking distance with 400m to go, he should be hard to hold out despite the red-hot form of race favourite Mr Brightside.
Race 3: 3YO C&G Plate (1200m)
A highly competitive field of 13 three-year-old colts and geldings will step out over 1200m in the third race on the card, and we are siding with Vain Stakes place-getter Generation. The Snitzel colt was no match for Ingratiating over the final 50m on that day, but he was beaten only just over a length when fighting out the minor money with General Beau. Generation comes to The Valley second-up from a spell, and with the wide barrier (11) to deal with, Jye McNeil will have no choice but to roll forward. We anticipate he will sit outside the leader, one off the rails. If Generation brings his best effort on Saturday, he should be simply too good for this field with bigger targets on the horizon for the spring.
Race 4: Handicap (2040m)
The fourth at The Valley looks to be a genuine match race between Degraves and Heart Of Puissance. We’ve landed on the Robert Hickmott-trained Degraves, who gains the services of apprentice Alana Kelly and gets in with just 51kg on his back. Despite finishing midfield at his last start as a well-backed favourite, the four-year-old son of Camelot hardly lost any admirers considering he had to sustain a long run. With three wins and a minor placing from five starts on wet ground, we know he will handle the going if the expected downpour does come on Friday. Look for Kelly to land him in the one-one, and with a genuine tempo expected, we expect Degraves’ touch of class to be the difference in this.
Race 5: McEwen Stakes (1000m)
Our best bet on the Moonee Valley card comes up at the halfway point when Portland Sky steps out in the Group 2 McEwen Stakes first-up from a 24-week spell. Having gone to new heights during the autumn when dead-heating for first in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate, the four-year-old Deep Field entire looks perfectly placed to kick off his spring campaign in winning fashion. He backed up that success at his next start with a gallant second behind Masked Crusader in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes. You would think Portland Sky only needs to be 80% screwed down to win this, as his rivals clearly lack a bit of class and experience at Moonee Valley.
Race 6: Atlantic Jewel Stakes (1200m)
The Listed Atlantic Jewel Stakes opens the quaddie on Saturday at The Valley. In what looks to be a hotly contested affair, we have sided with the John Moloney-trained Scorched Earth. The three-year-old Nicconi filly comes into this off a third-place run in the Group 3 Quezette Stakes when finishing a length behind Gimmie Par and a half-length off Heresy, who both look to be smart runners going forward. With a win to her name at the track and distance and two wins from as many starts at 1200m, she clearly is a sprinter to follow through the spring. From barrier three, Damian Lane will look to lob her in the one-one. With a well-timed sprint, Scorched Earth should be simply too good for her rivals.
Race 7: Chautauqua Stakes (1200m)
The Listed Chautauqua Stakes looks to be one of the toughest races on the Moonee Valley card. In a race where tactics will be key, we have sided with the Phillip Stokes-trained Ancestry despite a disappointing first-up run over 1000m in the Carlyon Stakes. The speedster has two wins from two starts at this track and distance and was previously unbeaten at The Valley prior to his last-start failure. In-form jockey Brett Prebble takes the steer, and from barrier 15 we expect him to use Ancestry’s early speed to his advantage to hunt for the rails. With three wins from four second-up runs and five wins from eight runs on rain-affected ground, this looks to be one of the better value bets on the card.
Race 8: Feehan Stakes (1600m)
Win and you are in to the 2021 Cox Plate – that is what is on offer in the Group 2 Feehan Stakes on Saturday. In what looks to be an open edition, it is hard to go past the undefeated Elephant. The Emma-Lee & David Browne-trained son of Shocking was impressive on his Australian debut at Caulfield on August 14, doing his best work late over the 1400m. He steps up to the 1600m here, and with a run in the Cox Plate firmly on the agenda for connections, Elephant looks the one to be with in the feature event. Luke Currie hops on board and from barrier one is set to gain an economical run in transit, so barring bad luck, it is hard to see how any of his rivals topple the undefeated Kiwi.
Race 9: Handicap (1600m)
The Shane Fliedner-trained Hi Stranger seemingly doesn’t know how to run a bad race and is looking to make it three wins in succession on Saturday. The five-year-old son of Zoffany is undefeated from two starts at the Moonee Valley mile and looks well placed to keep that record intact. He gets the low-flying apprentice Josh Richards on board, and his 3kg claim gets them in with just 55kg. From barrier two, Hi Stranger draws to do no work in the run, and outside of bad luck, it is hard to see how he doesn’t make it a hat-trick of wins.
Moonee Valley quaddie tips for Cox Plate Qualifier Day
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