MOONEE VALLEY: COX PLATE - SATURDAY 28th OCTOBER 2023
Track: GOOD(4) - Weather: FINE - Rail: TRUE

Betting Portfolio ($50):
Cold and wet midweek, but it actually seems that most of the rain missed MV and they are even talking about watering it Friday night if required. Sunny day Saturday so we should be on a genuine GOOD(4), would love a bit more rain and a bit more give in the track which is now unlikely. The track should race evenly with 8 races Friday night to wear out any track patterns, but as always keep an eye on the weather and the racing pattern as there is often a distinct racing pattern at MV that punters can take advantage of. With a bit of wind around good chance this track could get quite firm.

Unfortunately, we keep getting small fields Cox Plate day which often means short priced favourites and not much punting value, so we will be treading lightly this week after a pretty good Caulfield Cup carnival. A lot of races not even paying third dividend. Amazing that there are 18 races across Friday night and Saturday and so little to actually bet on.

Reminder that at the moment for Spring Campaign 2023 we wonít be posting tips till Saturday morning (earlier if time allows). Feature race preview at the bottom of this post and will be posted Friday night to allow more time for form study.


BEST EACH WAY: Race 3: 5-SOUL CHOICE $4 EW
Probably not much between the first few in betting here, just not sure how strong the fields are that 2-WISHLOR LASS has been beating in Melbourne, and good chance that the Sydney form is better. This one was competitive last start in what was probably a harder race, is fitter for two runs in from a spell and will jump and lead or sit outside the leader and get every chance here. Only two place dividends, but she gets the run of the race at around $7 so happy to back each way.

BEST EACH WAY: Race 4: 8-RIGHT TO PARTY $4 EW
Flashy grey who flew home here 1st up in August and then had issues 2nd up so given some time off and that was a definite forgive run. She has competed in tougher races than many of these, and good jump out win leading into this suggests she may be back to her best. This is one of the few fields today with some speed, so suspect they will run along in this and she will be able to run on down the outside. Back each way at around $6, was longer but has been well backed and scratchings have chopped the odds right down.

BEST EACH WAY: Race 6: 2-APRILIA $4 EW
QUINELLA: Race 6: 2-APRILIA, 6-NODACHI, 9-POIFECT boxed x $3 =100%
This one has been racing well at all three runs this time in and took up a box seat last start before being run down late when probably just ran out of fitness a little. Ready to win now with the 1600M run this time in and from a good barrier likely to get the run of the race again. Back each way at around $10 and box up a nice value quinella here with the consistent on-speed 6-NODACHI and be wary of the 9-POIFECT here, the stable has an opinion, she ran on really well first-up against a leaders pattern and then obviously not right last start.

BEST EACH WAY: Race 9: 5-GOLD TRIP $4 EW
QUINELLA: Race 9: 4,5,9,11 boxed x $3 = 100%
Yes, yes, we know the track is going to come up firm, and that is definitely a concern, but that also means we are probably going to get even better odds come race time. Form this time in has been outstanding, and always prefer to back horses with form past 2000M in the Cox Plate in a pressure race where being strong at the end of 2000M is important. Just needs enough speed on to loop into the race out wide and looks a good each way bet at around $8. There is a nice value box quinella here with the 4-ALLIGATOR BLOOD leading on a dry track, the improving 3YO 11-MILITARIZE who will almost certainly be well backed, and the roughie the stayer 9-DUAIS if she can get a split run through the field.

QUINELLA: Race 1: 5-SHALAMAN, 1-ASHFORD STREET x $2 = 200%
Just a little play bet to kick off the day in a small field. We tipped the 5-SHALAMAN last start at $40 as best roughie and of course he ran into the race well, but then faded to run a frustrating fourth. So need to have something on again today, and his best form is here at MV. Hopefully they jump and go to an aggressive lead and if so he may be hard to run down at around $8. So just a cheeky quinella with the tough and very consistent 1-ASHFORD STREET who runs above market expectations just about every start at the moment.

BEST ROUGH: Race 10: 8-LORDSTER $2.50 EW
Very hard to see much value at all today, but if we are going to get an upset it will most likely be in one of the 3YO races with a horse on the improve. This one flashed home to win two starts back and then was held up for runs and couldnít get into clear running last start. He is going along OK and probably with some improvement to come so could cause the upset here at around $50, which seems long odds about a horse in a 7 horse field that has placed last two starts.

LAY OF THE DAY: Race 6: 11-SKYBIRD at around $3
Pretty tough day for a Lay of the Day with small fields and lots of short priced favourites. This one is an up and coming type who obviously has a bit of a spruik about her, but she is stepping up in distance and in class here. Drawn wide and likely to drop back, and just donít think the odds represent any value and prefer to back something each way that will sit handy.

TURF DELI WONDER BET: Here we try and turn $5 into a deposit for a MV apartment.
$5 ALL UP
PLACE: Race 3: 5-SOUL CHOICE
PLACE: Race 6: 2-APRILIA
PLACE: Race 7: 4-APULIA
PLACE: Race 8: 3-UNCOMMON JAMES
PLACE: Race 9: 4-ALLIGATOR BLOOD
Really tricky day to find anything of value, and even with an all up place bet we are going to need an extra leg and to negotiate some no third dividend races. Basically these are the ones likely to be on-speed and in the finish that are not short priced favourites and looking for around a $400 return for a $5 outlay.

SUGGESTED QUADDIE:
Races 7,8,9,10: 1,3,4,7 / 3,6 / 4,5,9,11 / 2,5,8,10 x $20 = 15.6%
Full disclosure the quaddie is unlikely to pay much today. Taking a few in the first leg just because we had an upset in the staying 3YO race last week, suspect the 3-UNCOMMON JAMES may give the favourite a run for her money in the feature sprint, value with the selections in the Cox Plate and want to come home wide in the last leg for a few roughies as that seems the most likely race for an upset.


Feature Race Preview:

The key to this race is often the tempo, and it looks both the 4-ALLIGATOR BLOOD and 2-ZAAKI go forward here and they should ensure a genuine enough speed, question will be where the internationals settle and if one of them wants to turn it into a really tough slog 2040M. Generally though the pressure will go on from the 600M so it is pretty hard to lead and dictate in a Cox Plate Ė those that do normally run out to big leads, which isnít the racing pattern of the on-pacers today. Behind the speed the 1-ROMANTIC WARRIOR should settle forward from a good barrier, the 3-MR BRIGHTSIDE getting a good trail and likely the 3YO the 12-KING COLORADO goes more forward here. Tempo should be even, but except them to make runs early here and put the pressure on.

Runner by Runner comments:

1-ROMANTIC WARRIOR was one of the worst bets of the year in the Turnbull at $2.50 (and far shorter on the World Pool!), first-up in Australia, after travelling poorly, trainer warning he wasnít fully fit and first time travelling, yet the racing media and multi punters dived on like he was unbeatable. Run was even enough there, sure to be plenty of improvement. The form from the Turnbull stacks up with the quinella right in the finish of the Caulfield Cup. He was safely held though so the question will be how much he has improved, and trainer has again issued a warning that he isnít fully fit and the Werribee quarantine is not up to scratch. He has led previously and suspect they may sit just off the speed and go early here and put the pressure into the race. Question is if you want to take the odds coming off a disappointing run, and the answer is No for us. Keep a close eye on the betting market though which will probably tell the story here.

2-ZAAKI hasnít quite kept up the buzz that saw him favourite (and scratched on race morning) for this race in 2021. He is always highly competitive in these sort of races, but has been scratched a few times now so obviously carries a few issues that need to be managed. But always pays to never underestimate him as the Mckinnon win last year showed. Only had the two runs in this year and fought out the finish well last start. Worth noting he had three runs into this race last year and was supposed to run in the King Charles this year but was scratched, so the preparation this year is one run short of what was planned. He was actually really tough in this race last year, the pressure went on a long way out and he fought out the finish strongly. Drawn out and will have to go forward and he does seem a bit forgotten in this field at $20. His best runs are when he can control the speed and to be honest we donít think he likes racing with 4-ALLIGATOR BLOOD in the field, they tend to put each other off. Capable of pinching this with an aggressive leading ride, but rough chance only.

3-MR BRIGHTSIDE has been all the rage this spring, but no horse is unbeatable and still plenty of merit in Sydney defeat last start. Has comfortably held a few of these this spring and likely to settle just behind the speed from a good barrier and he can take gaps when the pressure comes on when they turn for home. The firm GOOD(3) track was suggested to blame for the defeat last start, unlikely we get to a track that firm here. The obvious question here is the 2000M, both of this 2000M runs last spring he wasnít beaten that far and did settle well back in the field each time. Definitely going better this spring, if he is to win they will need a more positive ride settling just behind the speed and he would probably prefer a sit sprint race where he can dart through the field and sprint clear on the turn, as think he will be a query over a pressure 2040M. Chance with the right run and race tempo.

4-ALLIGATOR BLOOD is a delight to watch race and seems to be racing better than ever this time in. Jumps and leads here or settles on-speed and he is very hard to run down given the right race tempo Ė in fact he even spaced them off a fast speed in the Underwood and Caulfield Stakes, chasing down a tear-away leader both times and sliding past them with ease. We had a question mark over him past 1600M before the Underwood win, and he definitely put that to rest with a dominant 2000M win last start in the Caulfield Stakes. Really wasnít beaten that far at all in this race last year, and note that was on a heavy track which definitely isnít his go, and he hits a firm track this year and he is in much better form going into the race. Leads on the rails here, so question is how much they pressure him and he is not the type to run out to a big lead, but really strong winning chance, especially if the racing pattern favour those on-speed.

5-GOLD TRIP was probably a bit under-rated for a Melbourne Cup winner before the breath-taking Turnbull win. Form this time in has been excellent, burst through the field from last on a leaderís track 1st up at MV, flashed past them in the Turnbull and the fast speed over 2400M probably just bought him undone in the Caulfield Cup when he ran into the race pretty well, but couldnít match it with the first two home with only two runs into the race. Not sure if he didnít come up in the Autumn, or just isnít as good Sydney way of going? But he has gone 5th Turnbull, 2nd Caulfield Cup, 9th Cox Plate, 1st Melbourne Cup last year, and 1st Turnbull, 3rd Caulfield Cup this year so he is ultra-competitive in these spring features. Go back and watch his run in this race last year, he ran into dead-ends a few times in the straight when making good ground and hit a wall just near the line so should have finished much closer. Well established that he prefers some give in the ground, so query if this track gets too firm and probably a good thing on a track rated SOFT or worse. Regular jockey back on board, like that he is drawn out to loop around them and as long as they go fast enough up front here he is going to be extremely hard to beat. Strong chance.

6-MY OBERON is a feature miler and normally these are not the right sort of horse for this race. Won here on a heavy track this day last year, and although all his best form has been on genuinely wet tracks his last two runs on dry tracks have been pretty good. Only 2000M run was overseas, so pretty much unknown at this distance. Main issue is that he drops well back in the run, he would be giving these a big head start and would probably need a wet track, a really fast speed and for them to be winning looping and doubt he gets any of those today.

7-PINSTRIPED has been set a challenge here, but has been racing extremely well this time in and solid win in the Feehan off a furious tempo here two starts back. Ran on well in the Toorak, but well held. Drawn out here and almost certainly drops well back, and query at the distance, although if you go back and watch the Sandown 1800M run in May 2023 he carried a big weight and ran on well the length of the straight making ground. They donít need to do anything here, just drop out the back and run on with no expectations so suspect this one actually runs better than the odds suggest and maybe a super roughie for the exotics.

8-FANGIRL has always had a stack of ability, but just kept running into the pesky ANAMOE. Has been consistently in the finish of everything she has contested over the last year, normally dropping well back and making ground and the firm track is a big plus today. Another who is attempting the 2000M for the first time, but she is always strong at the end of her races. Will need to make a long sustained run out wide here looping them. Interesting that she settled in the first five last start which took luck out of the equation, so wonder how positive they will be today as there is the chance to ride her more forward here. Hard to knock form so has to rate some chance.

9-DUAIS had a dud preparation last spring when was all the rage for the spring majors, but seems to have come back in her best form this time in. Flew home in the Underwood off a fast speed and was weaving through along the inside and actually hit the front shortly after the line she was going so fast. Set an impossible task when trailing a tear away leader and at the tail of the field in the Caulfield Stakes, so effort was still good as there was no way she was going to win that race. There is actually a bit to like about her here, she won the Australia Cup over 2000M WFA so she is proven at this level, she is proven past 2000M up against a field that is largely milers (and normally the pressure in the race brings the milers unstuck), and she is racing well this time in. Plus we have jockey Oliver desperate for a farewell Group 1 in his last riding season, riding a Cummings family horse that he has won a Cox Plate before with. Firm track will suit. Will need a bit of luck from the inside barrier (and a DANE RIPPER style ride), but think she is right in this and an excellent rough chance.

10-VICTORIA ROAD is an international and really impossible to line up, so betting market is the best guide. Drawn middle and likely to drop back and little concerned he may get cluttered up in the field here. Looks a long run grinding type from the videos available and not sure that MV will suit. Bottom line is prefer not to bet on unknowns regardless, but if that is your thing feel free to go for it.

11-MILITARIZE ticks the box of being a staying 3YO with no weight and always need to be wary of those types in the Cox Plate. Showed class with his Champagne Stakes and Golden Rose win and the way he pounced to win that race when clear showed he had a touch of class. Ordinary negative ride from outside barrier in the Caulfield Guineas gave him no chance, three of the first four in the turn fought out the finish in that race and he was giving them 8 lengths or more on the home turn. Likely to settle back in the field here again and might need some luck, but think he looks the right type to feature in this race as a 3YO and strong winning chance. Expect him to be well backed come race time, the market tends to gravitate towards these lightly weighted 3YOs in this race.

12-KING COLORADO is the second of the lightly weighted 3YOs and was best performance this time in when fourth in the Caulfield Guineas, and he held on well there. He is one that might roll forward with no weight from an outside barrier and add to the speed here. Not sure his form his good enough to be a factor here though.

Summary:

Looks an intriguing tactical race as always, and the question is going to come down to how well the 4-ALLIGATOR BLOOD and 2-ZAAKI can control the speed in front and turn it into a sprint home and how early the pressure goes on. We are happy to stick with the 5-GOLD TRIP on top here, obviously we would prefer a bit more rain and wouldnít want the track to get to a GOOD(3), but both the last two runs have been outstanding and just needs the pressure to go on early enough to allow him to run into the race. The Turnbull Stakes win was utterly dominant, and donít mind backing horses off the Caulfield Cup into this race Ė the extra distance in their legs is a positive against a field that usually contains a lot of horses who prefer the mile. Plus he looks value, he comprehensively beat the 1-ROMANTIC WARRIOR home last start but still goes around double the odds of that one today. Maybe wait till closer to race time to back him because if the track gets firm he will drift dramatically. Wary of the 4-ALLIGATOR BLOOD on speed on a dry track (and possible MV leader bias?) and he seems to be racing in career best form, and also serious danger in the 3YO 11-MILITARIZE who looks the right sort of 3YO for this race, but may end up no value as often the 3YOs get well-backed. Clear best roughie here is the 9-DUAIS who is proven past 2000M up against a field of milers and expect her to run really well so putting her in as third pick. Punting plan is to have something to win on the top pick and a box quinella and trifecta on these four runners, in a very even edition of the Cox Plate.


The Tips:

Race 1: 5-SHALAMAN, 1-ASHFORD STREET, 3-TAUNTING
Race 2: EARLY 2YO Ė NO BET.
Race 3: 5-SOUL CHOICE, 1-THALASSOPHILE, 2-WISHLOR LASS
Race 4: 8-RIGHT TO PARTY, 5-SHEVA, 7-DIVINE GLORY
Race 5: 4-ANTINO, 1-TUVALU, 6-PROWESS
Race 6: 2-APRILIA, 6-NODACHI, 9-POIFECT
Race 7: 3-VERDAD, 4-APULIA, 1-SUNSOURCE
Race 8: 6-IMPERATRIZ, 3-UNCOMMON JAMES, 4-JIGSAW
Race 9: 5-GOLD TRIP, 4-ALLIGATOR BLOOD, 9-DUAIS
Race 10: 2-MAHARBA, 5-SNIPPETY LEGEND, 8-LORDSTER