Racing: Turn left before taking in a great card on William Reid Stakes day

By Chris Riordan

As you scurry in to the Valley and clear the turnstiles, there’s a choice of three directions to take. Punters push straight ahead into the betting ring or beyond to the bars, the stands and the lawn. Sometimes I try to swing right because the stalls and parade ring are beautiful… grand trees, the sounds and smells of thoroughbreds and the whole pre-race process, which is more accessible at the Valley than at any other city course. This Saturday, try to allow time to turn left and visit the memorial garden, bedecked in the trademark pink and white, which is the burial site of the legendary Manikato.

Saturday has dual significance for fans of the extraordinary gelding. It will be 26 years since his death; on February 13, 1984, racegoers across the country mourned when Manikato was put down after a nine-month fight to save his life. And then, after you’ve watched the videos and read the accolades, you can proceed to the rest of the course and enjoy the fantastic card, highlighted by an outstanding Group 1 William Reid Stakes, a race that  Manikato won in an incredible five consecutive years.

The 2010 edition looks to do credit to the race’s glittering heritage. Black Caviar will be favourite and looking to extend her unbeaten sequence to six. A win in this will force leading trainer Peter Moody to then choose a path towards the 1200-metre Newmarket or press for more ground on an Australian Guineas or a Doncaster campaign. Her talent seems untapped and others speak in awe of her cruising speed. Last start, at the Valley, she disposed of Here De Angels which, in turn, won the Rubiton last week at Caulfield.

I have warned against taking short odds on three-year-olds who are untried against hardened sprinters, and Irish Lights and Avenue both failed their first test. So, should we be wary again this week? Black Caviar looks a cut above but I am still reserving my call on this race. Colts Wanted (my pin-up at present, beaten a breath in the Lightning) and Shellscrape (third in the Lightning) are also outstanding and have that experience from Flemington to draw on. Their conqueror that day, Nicconi, is world class. If the race is run hard and the track plays fairly, watch for Nicconi’s withering finish.

Of the others, widely travelled Sniper’s Bullet returns from a successful Perth raid and Cups warrior Master O’Reilly has chosen this hit-out rather than lumbering 62.5 kilograms in a support race. Mentality, winner of over $2 million, and enigmatic grey Light Fantastic are both Group 1 horses with fresh form, whilst Glenn Boss’ mount, Turffontein, was a Group 1 winner last preparation. Speed maps, track bias and luck in running will all have to be weighed up. Black Caviar will flatten for the run-in and punters will cast their eyes to see Nicconi’s momentum. This race has depth and class.

The nine-race program also includes the Group 2 Alister Clark Stakes and the Group 2 Sunline Stakes as well as other interesting match-ups.

A long night dissecting the Winning Post looks the only certainty!

On Friday we’ll have some tips and reminiscences of past William Reid classics. Come Sunday, I expect another to be etched in to the memory of those of us lucky enough to be there for Saturday’s feature autumn meeting at Moonee Valley.


  1. BREAKING NEWS!!! Black Caviar has been found to be sore after trackwork this morning and is now scratched from Saturday’s William Reid Stakes and faces a lengthy rehabilitation. This is a terrible blow to connections and to the Autumn Carnival as Black Caviar looked certain to be a drawcard for the racing clubs. This news, following Starspangledbanner’s non-acceptance, certainly diminishes the Group One 1200m feature but it is nevertheless still a high class clash. Revised markets will have Nicconi shading Wanted as favorite in an eight horse field with plenty of eachway value.

    This disappointment carries with it another lesson for punters. I once heard Dr Turf respond to a suggestion that a certain horse was at juicy odds in early markets. His response was something along the lines of preferring to take 7/4 a horse which has paraded well, drawn a good gate, has a favourable track and jockey (etc, etc) than 7/1 on spec. At least you see it go around and can more accurately rate its chances.
    Luckily I haven’t fallen in to the punt here, just done form a bit too early.
    And I’m still looking forward to a great meeting at the Valley this Saturday.

  2. Looking through the honour roll of William Reid winners is fascinating. It contains stayers like Comic Court (first up after a Melbourne Cup), sprinters like Frank Sedgman’s Hareeba(what a great name for a sprinter) and stalwarts like Bomber Bill (can’t believe he’s retired; is there a master’s circuit?).
    Dominating the list, of course, is the mighty Manikato (five consecutive victories) with the unmistakeable Apache Cat triumphant in the last two years. Other favourite horses to have won include Winfreux (never saw this one but he seems to have run in to Tobin Bronze most of his career), Campaign King, Family of Man, Vo Rogue, Redelva and the outstanding Miss Andretti.

    Form discussion and some tips to follow later today.

  3. Great into Crio, passionately written, though I have prayed at Manikato’s resting place for a protest to be dismissed (92 Cox Plate BLU 5th vs Lets Elope 2nd) to retain the trifecta only to have a magnificent racehorse say “Not this time my son”

    To the present, I find it a pretty dissapointing card. In my opinion The Valley with its smallish (for small, see Syd and Adel) fields and “specialist” reputation fails to offer the blow out chances that Flemington, and to a lesser degree The Heath do.

    Having said that I will be trying a couple (The sun will rise, won’t it)

    Star Demon of the astute Minervini stable in the first.

    Ex Perth filly Delta Gee in the eighth. A Street Cry mare who was a fav for the WA Oaks. Perth I know, but hints of quality.

    Nominated two, but I will obviously try and back the card.

  4. I’m tipping that the Valley will have absorbed the deluge reasonably well and that the track will be Dead/Slow (website, of course, suggests Dead4). The rail is true so we shouldn’t get the farcical leader’s track that features on Fridays, but, except when the pace is hot, it is still a good track to be on-pace.
    The first race is NO BET but interesting. Hayes brings In Faith over from Adelaide and I expect it to be well supported and look the winner at some stage. Use Pull No Punches to add value to multiples if you are itching for an early start.
    I backed Tollesprit at Flemington and he should also win this. Even a soft track should help as the Bel Esprit’s are doing well in that going.
    The third race is tricky. From Flemington a fortnight ago, I earmarked Speedy Natalie as a “black-booker” for her luckless run. On that, I should pick her here, but I’m again worried where she’ll lob and the luck she’ll need. Perhaps the better lead is stablemate Salinas which, on face value (+ Stewards’ reports) was disappointing last start. But “Blinkers first time”, glowing track reports and a strong second-up formline will entice me to make this my value bet of the day.
    Marchelle Belle has the class and Ariarni the form to quinella the next.
    The fifth is very even. Maybe Dane Keeper or bracket 3,4,5.
    I’m not rapt in the Alister Clark but if I was to take a Quaddy I’d certainly put in Viking Hero as the value and Extra Zero as the one to beat.
    The William Reid has certainly lost its glamour with Black Caviar out. Four chances only. Nicconi if swoopers prevailing. Wanted because it puts itself in winning positions. Shellscrape, especially if the track deteriorates and Light Fantastic at value.
    Though I can’t back Zarita at 5/4, she looks the goods in the Sunline. If this was a Handicap she’d be giving most of these plenty. Probably one-out. 4 and 8 into multis.
    I know there’s a burning desire to bet in the last (get out or go for glory) but this is an awful race. Wait until next week. If stuck in a trifecta drinking school, volunteer Montaon at get-square odds.
    Overall this meeting hasn’t quite presented as promised but is interesting nonetheless. Very few (if any) bets for me as I’ll be at the Turfbet stand in the main ring extending greetings and top odds to all who venture up to say g’day and looking for a beer after the last.

  5. Forgot the headliner (Oh for horses the calibre of Manikato)

    Nicconi wins. Only chance to upset him is Light Fantastic. The race, and the card, falls away quicker than Richmond supporters.

  6. Crio, I love the use of the word “connections”. In these days of corporate project-management-speak (see Crio’s Question at, it’s pleasantly surprising that they are still “connections” and not “stakeholders”.

  7. Andrew Fithall says

    Gigs – that’s because the bookies, tote etc are the stakeholders…

    Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

Leave a Comment