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Daily News | 24th October 2018
Sunlight Out To Defy Manikato HistoryWednesday, 24th October 2018Trainer Tony McEvoy is confident classy filly Sunlight can overcome the age deficit and run a bold race in Friday night's $1 million Gr1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley. The multiple Group winner was put through her paces at Tuesday morning's Breakfast With The Best trackwork session at Moonee Valley and ran her final 400 metres in 23.11 seconds. "She was really sharp this morning," McEvoy told racing.com. "Luke [Currie] said she felt fantastic. She has certainly improved in terms of fitness. I'm really pleased with how she looked this morning. She has really tightened up - she looked like a horse who is ready for a big Group One contest." However, history is against Sunlight's bid to win the weight-for-age sprint, with the only 3YO filly to win the race being Dual Choice way back in 1970. "It's a really tough ask for a three-year-old filly to take on these older sprinters," McEvoy added. "It hasn't been done for a long, long time, but the opportunity to run her with only 51kg on her back was too good to pass up."
Sunlight (image: Mark Gatt)
Wide Draw No Concern for KementariWednesday, 24th October 2018Trainer James Cummings has no doubt Kementari has the class to overcome his wide draw in Friday night's $1 million Gr1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley. The Godolphin-owned Kementari has drawn barrier 12 of 14 for the weight-for-age sprint feature. "It looks from an early perspective that there is plenty of speed that is drawn towards the inside, Cummings told racenet. "If it does become a swooper's race then Kementari is not locked away on the inside and he is able to get into the clear and get into his work. You saw him in the Memsie with a wide run, he's got a really strong burst and he can sustain pressure from a long way out." Cummings added: "We are confident he has got that strength again and he's ready to run very well as a fresh horse over 1200m. If the pressure goes on genuinely then I think he will respond. He is as good a sprinter-miler I think that we can put a saddle on right now out of our barn."
Kementari (image: Steve Hart)
Houtzen To Relish Manikato TripWednesday, 24th October 2018Trainer Toby Edmonds says the step up to six furlongs will aid Houtzen's chances in Friday night's $1 million Gr1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley. The 4YO daughter of I Am Invincible is yet to win a race this campaign but has performed well finishing runner-up to Nature Strip when resuming in the Gr2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley, and fifth to Viddora in the Gr1 Moir Stakes (1000m) at the same track three weeks ago. Houtzen has drawn barrier four in the weight-for-age feature. "We think the 1200 metres of this race will really suit her," Edmonds said. "She's going to get a good run from that barrier and hopefully there is good speed in the race. With a bit of luck she might be in the finish." TAB have Houtzen listed as the $8 third favourite for the Manikato.
WEDNESDAY 3:20pm: Listed Geelong Classic (2200m) GeelongWednesday, 24th October 2018
4:00pm: Gr3 Geelong Cup (2400m) GeelongWednesday, 24th October 2018
4:40pm: Listed Shojun Concrete Stakes (1200m) GeelongWednesday, 24th October 2018
Withhold Set To Continue NH SuccessWednesday, 24th October 2018Top-class jockey Kerrin McEvoy is confident that Withhold (Shirocco-Storming Sioux, by Storming Home) can become the latest international stayer to win the Gr3 Geelong Cup (2400m) on Wednesday. Withhold, who will use the Geelong Cup as his only lead-up to Tuesday week's Melbourne Cup, will bid to join Media Puzzle (2002), Bauer (2008), Americain (2010), Dunaden (2011), Gatewood (2012) and Qewy (2016) as the northern hemisphere-trained horses who have won the Geelong Cup in the past 20 years. Moreover, three (Media Puzzle, Americain and Dunaden) achieved what Withhold is attempting to do by also winning Australia's most famous race on the first Tuesday in November. The form surrounding Withhold was given a significant boost when A Prince Of Arran, whom Withhold comfortable defeated in the Northumberland Plate (3200m) in June, finished third to Melbourne Cup favourite Yucatan in the Gr2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield two weeks' ago. "He seems to have travelled out here really well and he's obviously got impressive handicap form over there," McEvoy said. "He's a nice style of a horse so you'd like to think that he can go there and run really well. I haven't had a good look at the race yet but he seems versatile enough to do what you want." McEvoy added: "I rode him about a week ago and he felt really good. He worked nice and sharply, so everything says that he's travelled out nicely." Withhold is currently 33rd in the order of entry for the Melbourne Cup with 53kg.
Pitman Confident of Making Cox PlateWednesday, 24th October 2018Co-trainer Michael Pitman has not given up hope of being at Moonee Valley on Saturday to watch Savvy Coup (Savabeel-Eudora, by Pins) line up against Winx in the Gr1 Cox Plate. Pitman, who has undergone major surgery in the last two weeks as he continues his battle against bowel cancer, said it was his aim to be in Melbourne and watch his stable star take on the world's best. "I'd love to be there. At this stage my doctor says I will be alright to travel, but he will have the final say," Pitman told Sky Sports Radio form his hospital bed in New Zealand. Pitman said it was a dream come true to have a horse good enough to run in a Cox Plate, but he is under no illusions about the task confronting his mare. "If she can run top five, I'd be delighted," he said. "Imagine if she could run top five behind Winx - she'd have to be rated one of the five weight-for-age horses in the world." Savvy Coup, who is coming off an impressive win in the Gr1 Livamol Classic (2000m) at Hastings, is rated a $31 chance for the Cox Plate.
Price Disappointed by Caulfield MoveWednesday, 24th October 2018Trainer Mick Price has expressed his disappointment at the decision of the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) to close Caulfield as a training centre from the end of 2023, reports racing.com. Price is one of the 22 trainers based at Caulfield who will have to relocate their operation. He says he hopes the MRC does the right thing and assists those trainers affected. "I can tell you know, I was in the room yesterday [Monday] when they made the announcement in the racecourse manager's office. They tell me it got a little interesting after I left, there was a little bit of heat in the room as you would expect," Prioce said. "I think it is a bit sad that they wipe the history of a training centre of excellence, just wipe it for whatever gain they see as fit." Price added: "I think from this point on it is a matter of the Melbourne Racing Club stepping up and looking after the proper relocation in a financial sense and in a sense where they get the right stabling at Cranbourne if they chose to go." Price said he will weight up his options but has no plans on retiring. "I've got to go and do the feasibility," he said. "Flemington is difficult to get in. I need 75 boxes plus, which is not a very big team these days. Whether it be Flemington or Cranbourne I've got to see what is available and see what my options are."
Jon Snow Out Of CupWednesday, 24th October 2018The connections of Kiwi stayer Jon Snow (Iffraaj-Orinda, by O'Reilly) have decided to abort his Melbourne Cup campaign and bring him back home to prepare for the autumn, reports NZ Racing Desk. The decision was made following the 5YOs disappointing 18th of 18 finish in last weekend's Caulfield Cup. "Bursting through the gates [before the race] didn't help," co-trainer Andrew Forsman said. "Damian [Lane] said he came out of the gates the second time and felt like a bit of a stunned mullet. The plan was to work forward and he couldn't quite get there and was just planted three-wide without cover most of the way on a slow speed. Then they sprinted and he got left flat-footed. Nothing really worked out and at that level things really do have to go your way." Despite the below-par performance, Forsman said Jon Snow was in excellent shape but a lack of suitable options over the remainder of the carnival meant his spring was over. "He's great, he looks outstanding," Forsman said. "That is the most disappointing thing, he's in such good order. But at this level there is no hiding when things don't fall into place. He flies home on Wednesday night, so he will be back in New Zealand on Thursday morning."
Embellish On Track for Summer ReturnWednesday, 24th October 2018Former star 3YO Embellish (Savabeel-Bling, by O'Reilly) continues to build nicely towards a return to racing with a win at the Te Awamutu trials last Thursday, reports NZ Racing Desk. The 2017 Gr1 New Zealand 2,000 Guineas winner has been sidelined since finishing eighth in the Gr1 Australian Guineas in Melbourne in March. "He looks to be back on track," Te Akau Racing trainer Jamie Richards said. "He's taken a bit of time this year, but Opie (Bosson) was pleased with his trial." Richards added: "We'll play around with him and have him ready for Ellerslie over the Christmas-New Year period. He could start off in an open 1300m at Tauranga on November 3 and could be a chance for a race like the Gr2 Rich Hill Mile at Ellerslie on 1 January."
Luca Cumani Announces RetirementWednesday, 24th October 2018Legendary British racehorse trainer Luca Cumani has announced his retirement after 43 years at Bedford House Stables in Newmarket, reports Sky Sports. "I wouldn't say it's something I've been thinking about for a long time, but I've come to realise the time is right. I've been very lucky and privileged to have won big races all around the world and I no longer have the material to do so," Cumani said. "At my age, I don't think that situation is going to change and I'm very lucky that I've been able to offer myself another job at our stud [Fittocks Stud], which is my second love after training." The Italian-born Cumani has trained countless feature race winners, including English Derby winners Kahyasi (1988) and High-Rise (1998), as well as more recent stars Barathea and Falbrav. "Barathea winning the Breeders' Cup Mile was fantastic. Falbrav was a brilliant horse for us as well," he said. Cumani confirmed Bedford House will be sold at the start of next year with he and his wife Sara to live at Fittocks Stud. "We'll continue training until the December Sales. Some horses will be sold, some will go to other trainers and that will be the end of that. I don't like saying it's the end as no-one has died. We've just decided on a change of direction," he said.
Winx Stars at Breakfast With The BestWednesday, 24th October 2018Chris Waller was all smiles after watching Winx gallop at Tuesday morning's Breakfast With The Best trackwork session at Moonee Valley. With regular rider Hugh Bowman in the saddle, the champion mare worked well within herself stretching out over 1000 metres in 1:11.07 and a final 400 metre sectional of 24.39 seconds. "Hughie gave me that customary smile and that's always good to see," Waller told racing.com. "She looks perfect to my eye. I haven't been able to fault any part of her preparation. I wouldn't have changed anything." Winx will attempt to rewrite the record books on Saturday by becoming the first horse in Australian racing history to win four Cox Plates. She currently shares the record of three Cox Plates with fellow champion galloper Kingston Town. The world's best racehorse will also be chasing a remarkable 29th consecutive win and her 22nd at Group 1 level.
Group 1 Cox Plate Field & BarriersWednesday, 24th October 2018
The final field has been declared and the barrier draw conducted for the 98th running of the $5 million Group 1 WS Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley in Melbourne on Saturday. A small but high quality field of eight will contest the weight-for-age showpiece. Justifiably regarded as one of the jewels on the Australian racing calendar, the Cox Plate takes on even greater significance for its 2018 renewal as champion Winx attempts to rewrite the record books and become the first horse in Australian racing history to win four Cox Plates. The Chris Waller-trained mare currently shares the record of three Cox Plates with fellow champion galloper Kingston Town. She will also be chasing her 29th consecutive win and her 22nd at Group 1 level. Winx, who will jump from barrier six, is currently at the prohibitive odds of $1.25 with TAB to claim that unprecedented fourth Cox Plate crown. The Godolphin-owned Benbatl (barrier 3) is the only other horse under double-figures at $8.50.
Group 1 Manikato Stakes Field & BarriersWednesday, 24th October 2018
The final field has been declared and the barrier draw conducted for the $1 million weight-for-age Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley in Melbourne on Friday night. A capacity field of 14 has assembled for the race. Champion Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien has accepted with four runners for the race, namley US Navy Flag, Spirit Of Valor, Intelligence Cross & Fleet Review. The current $4.40 TAB favourite is the Godolphin-owned Kementari, followed by the only 3YO in the race, Sunlight, at $4.60, then Houtzen at $8, Malaguerra at $9, and Brave Smash & Irish sprinter US Navy Flag at $9.50.