Crio’s Racing: Moonee Valley 20 August

I don’t expect bookies to get any sympathies from punters. Sworn enemies, their motive is, of course, to get each other’s money. It is a simple stand-off, but in some ways also a reason why there’s a history of grudging mutual respect on a changing landscape.

Once upon a time I’d only bet with a bookie. Pathetically modest though my wager was, I preferred the person-to-person challenge. I win. You lose. Not the Totalisator calculated for a certain percentage each race. Sure, at times the bookies had serious % in their camp, but there was a humanity of fortune and despair that I liked. And a racecourse romance…

So no one will really care when I whinge about the desperate plight of on-course bookies faced with an exodus of trackside punters, tax disincentives and rampant corporates.

Yet I need to comment on the meeting last Saturday at Caulfield. Sure, the results at Flemington a month before looked worse, but I can’t recall such financial damage at a normal meet as befell the satchel swingers at the Heath.

Many are shaken. A bonanza spring is the only lifeline, and cash punters on course will be the providers – the pros are too hard to beat. From a race club promotion perspective, it was probably a really good day. Form was rock solid. Sepoy looked sensational. Whobe and Lights of Heaven both shot to the top of feature markets. The mares have fantastic depth. TVN made a timely return with their Sunday racing review and all agreed that a vintage Carnival is about to unfold.

But we need to win.

And we are back in the Valley of Darkness this Saturday.

This is a pretty good meeting but their subsequent few are heaps better…the next is the fantastic Feehan Stakes day on  10 September and then the enormous Manikato Stakes card kicks off Friday night racing on GF Eve.

But it is an interesting meeting on Saturday and, if you’ve finished your footy fandom, a good chance to enjoy the intimate Valley experience before the hordes descend.

Quaddy punters might be a little cautious after the paltry div last week….see, the “Billy Goat” can’t lose!

It’s a little wider this week. The first two legs are early previews for the Thousand Guineas and The Caulfield Guineas with most of these pointing that way. Thus it is a card which, on reflection, can stack up well, but the trends are hard to perceive beforehand.

The Crockett Stakes (MR5, 1200m, Listed) is the first leg and, as seems customary, the Moody/Nolen combo presents the likely favourite, Diamond bridesmaid Hallowell Belle. I expect plenty of specking for others at E/W odds. Secret Status, Sweet Ella and Manhattan Maid will have fanciers.

I don’t like the 1200m McKenzie Stakes (R6) as it always seems to me to be a race where the real worth is only evident much later, such as last year when the winner, Anacheeva, went on to Guineas glory . This season, Moody presents the well fancied Huegill (12), but it is Flemington rival Danny O’Brien who is wheeling out the big guns, with both his acceptors, Running Tall (1) and The New Boy (4) in Caulfield markets. The New Boy, Secret Hills, Sabrage and Zabeelionaire are, in fact, also Cox Plate nominations.

The dashers scamper over 1000m in the 7th in what is a really interesting race with the scratching of Warm Love narrowing the punters’ preferences to Definitely Ready (5) and Kulgrinda (8). But Goodwood winner Lone Rock and even the enigmatic Eight Bills will ensure a fierce contest. Former star Wilander is on notice and Morgan Dollar runs well in good company.

Not so rapt in the last. Caulfield Cup aspirant December Draw is favourite and just might be a ripper, like fellow import My Kingdom of Fife –owned in the same interests – proved in Autumn. But I’d rather watch and see how he handles the Valley, since both his Australian triumphs were at the roomier track at the other end of Ascot Vale Road.  Bookies are wary here, keeping other chances such as Base, Carnero, Cabeza, Ishant, Pinnacles and Dusty Star safe until they know the fav is fancied. As a Quaddy closer, it is a risk.

I’m not tempted to speculate on a multi this week. Swinging the bag in the main ring, I’ll be in the best spot to see market trends but intend to save my “folding” for another day. It is an interesting meeting though…and plenty of Knackers are coming out to enjoy it – they should bring a new pad in which to mark a stack of future winners that will emerge from this notable form day.

And hopefully they also have some coin left for a frothy postulation after the last when bookies and punters are left with the “what if” and “what’ll be”!

Good luck.




  1. Just flicked to Warwick Farm fields…very interesting. I’m expecting big things from Pane in the Glass, resuming SR7 No3.

  2. 2nd opinion, Sydney is the key meeting this weekend. Don’t miss Racing Review this sunday.

  3. David Downer says:


    Will stay in touch re frothy postulation post last.

    Like a few of the shorties later in the day so prices will dictate extent of launching/non-launching. Keeping an eye on bias/patterns, obviously on-pacers expected to dominate.

    For what it’s worth…

    R3 – Mythical Spirit
    R4 – The Tiger (taking on trust, mixes his form but Cropp back on & proven lead/kick at MV)
    R5 – Hallowell Belle
    R6 – Huegill (Moody rates this his no.1 3yo Spring hope). Keep an eye on Amah Rock too
    R7 – Kulgrinda (very good in Adel and form out of that has stacked up)


  4. DD, why are they consumed with on pacers today?

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