Cox Plate day Saturday so doing our best to find a winner to get a bank for Winx’ history making fourth win the Group 1. Here’s a look at each of the runner’s and tips for Friday’s Group 1 Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley.
Why he can: Ran super race here when second to Viddora in Moir before failing to handle the heavy when unplaced in the Everest. Not as speedy as some, but wider gate (9) suits his style of racing so this tough seasoned sprinter should be able to get rolling when required.
Why he can’t: A wet track will damage his chances.
Why he can: Won the G1 Randwick Guineas in March. Freshened since finishing 4th to Grunt in G1 Makybe Diva (1600m), when did best work late. Prior to that was close second in G1 Memsie. Addition of blinkers should sharpen for the drop back in distance.
Why he can’t: He’s raced well fresh in the past, but there is a chance he will get too far back in this field. Promises plenty, but is yet to deliver as a four-year-old.
Why he can: Smart sprinter off the scene for almost a year, but he does have an outstanding record, of five from seven, when resuming. Winner this track and distance and was third in this race last year. Equal 1200m track record holder with Miss Andretti.
Why he can’t: Light of other days. Most recent win was January last year and has his share of issues.
Why he can: Very honest and unbeaten in two starts this track and distance. Won a G3 when resuming and third-up and latest outing was slow away and finished well for 4th to Ball of Muscle in G2 Schillaci. Weir trained so can’t be discounted.
Why he can’t: Seven-year-old and yet to crack it at elite level. Twice G1 placed, but a rung or two below top class.
Why he can: He was seventh in the G1 Moir and although better known as a mudlark he did hit the line well. Had conditions to suit next start on a heavy track in Sydney and was second to Pierata in G3 sprint.
Why he can’t: Eight-year-old and just not up to this level, but chances improve greatly if track is a bog.
SPIRIT OF VALOR
Why he can: One of Irish ace Aidan O’Brien’s four runners. Made a strong Australian debut when a fast finishing second to Ball Of Muscle in the G2 Schillaci (1100m). He took time balance up at Caulfield and will no doubt have taken improvement from the run.
Why he can’t: Two career wins from 7 starts, best at G2 level in Ireland.
Why he can: Stablemate of Spirit Of Valour and really is hard to make a case for him.
Why he can’t: Finished last to Ball Of Muscle in the Schillaci, so massive improvement needed.
US NAVY FLAG
Why he can: O’Brien has taken this four-year-old entire to two G1 wins in England. Won the July Cup at Newmarket in July and then resumed in the Everest at Randwick. He raced near the fence, which was the worst part of the track and didn’t handle the heavy going. Can improve on top of the ground.
Why he can’t: Hard to knock with a G1 win two starts back. He was slow away in the Everest and from barrier two he can’t afford to do that here.
Why he can: At first Australian start he finished 9th to Ball of Muscle in the Schillaci. He was beaten 4.9 lengths and despite a wide run, with no cover, he didn’t shirk the task and should have finished closer.
Why he can’t: Will probably get a fair way back from the wide alley. He’ll need a lot to go his way and best win was at Listed level.
Why she can: She followed a second to Nature Strip in the McEwen with 5th to Viddora in the G1 Moir (1000m). She had trouble staying in touch early in the Moir and then was crowded for room over the last 100m. Third-up and out to her pet 1200m distance with the ideal barrier.
Why she can’t: Best wins have been at G3 level against own sex. Honest, but query whether she is up to elite level against all-comers.
Why she can: Won a B90 for mares and then worked home nicely behind Invincibella in the G2 Blazer. Can race on the speed and has a good record at the Valley.
Why she can’t: With her racing pattern barrier 10 will make it difficult. She is a big risk of getting caught wide and not sure she is up to this level.
Why she can: She resumed from a spell and ran an eye-catching third to Viddora in the Moir. She won a G3 in Brisbane during the winter and obviously has returned in top order. Huge odds, but Ollie to ride and should be steaming home.
Why he can’t: She will get a long way back again and will need luck to go her way.
Why she can: Lightly raced mare that was G1 placed in the Coolmore last year. She’s fitter for three runs from a break and the Waterhouse/Bott combination is flying at the moment. Rider reported she found the track too hard last start when unplaced behind Santa Ana Lane at Randwick, so the Valley StrathAyr could help turn it around.
Why she can’t: First two runs in were okay. Most recent, where she felt the ground, raises concerns on how she has pulled up, especially tackling this field.
Why she can: Form is impossible to fault for this filly. She won her past two starts in G3 company. Latest led all of the way to beat Humma Humma over 1200m at Caulfield. She has not been out of the money in 10 career starts, which includes seven wins. Carries just 51kgs and TC will have her where he likes from barrier three.
Why she can’t: Impossible to knock. Three-year-old taking on older hard-nosed sprinters and first start at the Valley are little queries.
Best: Brave Smash. Dangers: US Navy Flag, Kementari.