Moonee Valley Looks to Put Running Conditions Controversy Behind
It is mainly spring appetisers so far as this weekend’s top Thoroughbred racing is concerned, but the sort of appetisers that might whet one’s appetite to the extent that it is fortunate the main courses are not until later in the month.
Moonee Valley will be receiving some attention and the recent controversy with the running conditions on the track had punters, trainers and jockeys feeling as though the course was not equitable to the entire field.
Most of that controversy seemed to centre around you-know-who, as she prepares to chase history in the Cox Plate late next month.
Thankfully, and perhaps due in part to the diligence of her entourage, no one has pulled a Phar Lap on Winx and taken a shot at her, although it does seem as though she could beat anything on four legs even if she were wounded.
Moonee Valley has the Group 2 Data Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600 m), a weight-for-age mile. That field looks like a Who’s Who of horses that have been beaten by Winx. Night’s Watch tops the betting at $3.50 with Ladbrokes, while reliable old Hartnell has been shortening since the market opened at is currently listed at $3.70. Next is Bonneval at $7.00.
The other big Moonee Valley race on the day is the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000 m. WFA). That one seems to belong to Nature Strip at $1.50, with the next two, Shoals and Houtzen, at $4.80 and $8, respectively, representing the top three lines in a small field of eight runners.
Houtzen was third in the race last year, behind Russian Revolution and Heatherly. Neither of those two is back for another crack.
Russian Revolution failed to back after winning the McEwen last year, producing a next-to-last finish in the A J Moir Stakes, before beating a field of 17 competitors in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield in autumn racing.
Heatherly has been retired.