There's an imminent storm predicted on Friday night which could easily set 5-10mm, even more, of rain. The showers are predicted to start at around 3pm AEST and continue throughout the night and into Saturday morning. If we get all of this and more, we likely start with a Soft5 and it will progressively get worse throughout the night - I'd say Soft7 and probably worse. If we get on the lower end of that on the night, it should stay in that Soft5 potentially Soft6 range. It will be quite dewy, so any small amount of rain will result in the track being a Soft5 at best. Light wind gusts are predicted and generally speaking, Moonee Valley is well protected from the wind - wind will have no impact on the racing.
The rail is back in true for the night. I'm convinced that the "Leader's Bias" at The Valley is now a myth, last few meetings the rail has been completely off. Best reference would be the September 25th meeting where winners were on-pace but any horse on the fence struggled. With the added bonus of the rain, I expect the track to be extremely bias to on-paced runners, race shape will determine whether backmarkers can get into the race. Jockeys will find the best part of the track out front and make it impossible for those in behind to catch them by forcing them to the disadvantaged lanes - whether they be inside or outside.
Prepare for a traditional on-paced night at The Valley, is my recommendation.
RACE 3 - ANTLER LUGGAGE HCP (1200m)
AL PASSEM should lead them up from gate-1 with SANSOM settling his outside. SIMPLY OPTIMISTIC could take SANSOM'S spot but I suspect AL PASSEM will go quick so Craig Williams will want to reserve some of his sprint. DESPATCH continues to take a sit this campaign and SANSOM should push past him, putting him in the one-one spot. PARSIFAL next, doesn't have an abundance of early pace, but those behind him don't either. ALL TOO ROYAL goes back from a wide gate as WAGNER and WILLIAM THOMAS round them up.
As previously mentioned, AL PASSEM probably rolls along at a even to fast tempo to try and make it a test and take the sting out of the legs of some.
Theme of the night, on-paced, so the first four in running are the map horses. In this case the two in particular are SANSOM and SIMPLY OPTIMISTIC. AL PASSEM definitely advantaged too. Think despatch may be slightly further back than he needs to, in order to win.
WILLIAM THOMAS, WAGNER and PARSIFAL find horrible map positions. ALL TOO ROYAL is a little more neutral but will find it tough still.
After being scratched at the barriers last start, much to punters' disappointment, SANSOM finds a nice race here. Gets bottom weight, and his record on wet tracks is certainly up to this class. From a map perspective, gate-5 is ideal and shouldn't have to work overly hard to find his settling position. Wet track records in this race are also pretty bleak compared to SANSOM, who has placed in 4/5 wet track starts, winning one of them. Form around VIRIDINE, WILMOT PASS and ALFA ORO is definitely the line to be following. I could definitely kick up for PARSIFAL who was taught a lesson against ANCESTRY but he had the track pattern against him and still ran super.
Sansom is a good bet here, happy to be with him with a decent bet. Others are unproven on wet tracks, but even if it is dry, he's the bet of this race.
RACE 4 - CHANDLER MACLOED GOLD STAR (1500m)
Mark Zahra on SO SI BON from gate-2, has to roll forward or at least be outside leader. ICONOCLASM will want to trail SO SI BON at every point and comes next. KEN'S DREAM, who's drawn his inside, probably wants to take up a position. KAZIO will go back from the wide gate and GALAXY RAIDER has no speed and will be last.
SO SI BON likes a bit of tempo in his races, so I expect this to be run pretty solidly. At least an even tempo seems likely and Mark Zahra will have this run to suit for his mount.
Wetter track makes me think on-pace will be the place to be. Given this, and likely control of the race, SO SI BON is the map horse to me. ICONOCLASM, if he slots in maps well too.
The last two, KAZIO and GALAXY RAIDER I don't give much of a chance. From back in the field with the rail out 7m and the rain coming, don't want to be a backmarker. KEN'S DREAM is the neutral runner in the small field.
As sick as I am typing, and as many of you punters will be reading this, I think SO SI BON is a great play and probably one of the better bets on the card. The last four races he's contested have been Group 1's and on average he's only been beaten 3.5 lengths, only being blown out by star Colt RUSSIAN CAMELOT, at 1800m (unsuitable distance). His last win came on a Heavy8 track and definitely goes on the wet ground. Others' in this race simply don't go on the wet surface. ICONOCLASM only has one placing at 6-starts on wet tracks and GALAXY RAIDER one-win from 12-starts. ICONOCLASM's last run to me is also overrated, as he was completely protected by the wind that day and got a suck run on the inside - probably should've won with the run he had. The only main danger, according to the market, who goes on wet tracks is KAZIO who has 2 wins from 7-starts on wet tracks, however he doesn't have the class of SO SI BON. The one I could maybe kick up for is KEN'S DREAM who came 5th 2.8L to ANCESTRY which looks a decent form-line, however just isn't of the same quality of SO SI BON.
The real issue with SO SI BON is that he doesn't win often. It is a concern but he's found his best chance in a while, and with the likely rain and predicted track pattern he's an absolute bet considering his class compared to the rest. Even if dry, happy to be with him.
RACE 6 - SWEENEY ESTATE AGENTS HCP (1000m)
CHOSEN BLONDE and WILD CHERRY ROAD look the likely leaders, BAAQYAH could press up and hold a leading position also. WRITTEN BEAUTY and HOT WATER both take the sit behind them, in my opinion. KOA, TORONASAURU REX and RATTLE AND BANG don't have much early speed and should be settle back. Disclaimer; WRITTEN BEAUTY is seriously fast, but with Pike on I'm convinced she could take a sit. If she goes to the front, she's a moral and they won't catch her.
Pace looks to be on here, which is nothing new for a 1000m race. Expect an even to fast tempo with even splits throughout. Will definitely be more of grind race rather than a sit and sprint. You want to be relatively close to the lead here.
On the map, WRITTEN BEAUTY and HOT WATER seem to map the best. CHOSEN BLONDE outside leader has a good time of it also. WILD CHERRY ROAD and BAAQYAH will be on the inside, however are also on pace, which cancels out any negatives of inferior ground - neutral runners.
KOA, TORONOSAURUS REX and RATTLE AND BANG are all too far back and will need a fair bit to go right to be winning from a map perspective.
There are only two horses I could consider winning chances here, and only one of those is a betting proposition. HOT WATER is my pick of the bunch. His debut was massive, last 600m rating up there with listed class horses. That was on Heavy8 going too which his trainer suggested wasn't his preferred going. He should get slightly better than that tonight and with a touch more pace on out front, we could see him improve. Trainer did also say he would improve out in distance, but based off the last race he's got a great turn of foot on him. The clear main danger is WRITTEN BEAUTY who trialled up a treat in Sydney and won accordingly first up, 2 lengths over CHIANTI. CHIANTI has form around DAME GISELLE and HUNGRY HEART whilst also having beaten EMANATE who has since won three on the trot. Deserved favourite but isn't a betting proposition at all. That's about as far as I could go into this race, CHOSEN BLONDE is half a chance given she likely lobs ahead of both in the run, but she lacks class.
Betting wise, HOT WATER would be the play. WRITTEN BEAUTY could be way too good but diving into the odds-on she's at is ludicrous.
RACE 8 - LADBROKES MANIKATO STAKES (1200m)
PIPPIE draws super to ping and go straight to the lead. I suspect SPLINTEX will come over from the outside and if HEY DOC doesn't push to be outside of PIPPIE then she will take up that spot with HEY DOC box-seating. BELLA VELLA presses forward to be outside of HEY DOC, then DIRTY WORK and DIAMOND EFFORT pair off. LYRE settles next the inside, surrounded by Godolphin pair KEMENTARI and TREKKING. ORDER OF COMMAND will settle back, whilst BROOKLYN HUSTLE in her customary role - last.
Pace will be on here, as it always is with PIPPIE in the race. SPLINTEX or HEY DOC should push it along and therefore predict a fast tempo, possibly quicker.
Sweet spot here will be forward of midfield. The three on-speed; SPLINTEX, PIPPIE, HEY DOC, will all be at an advantage, but could be weak late. BELLA VELLA is a bit the same. Map horse is clearly DIRTY WORK who will present nicely at the right time into the race. DIAMOND EFFORT, albeit on the fence, maps super her and will be close enough to strike.
ORDER OF COMMAND and BROOKLYN HUSTLE from well back are in a heap of bother - don't give them much of a chance. LYRE and TREKKING likely trapped on the inside at The Valley will have no joy either. KEMENTARI is probably just a pair too far back here as well.
Given the track is into that Soft7 or worse stage by this time of the meeting. I'm inclined to go searching for some real sturdy wet-trackers. I'd start with DIAMOND EFFORT, who is flying this prep, and boasts 3xWins and 2xSeconds on wet tracks. She was only just beaten by DIRTY WORK last start, who I peg as a very good bet on a drier surface in this race, and the wet track swings that match-up in her favour. To me that's the form race as out of it we also have HEY DOC and SPLINTEX. On this wetter surface I'm happy to oppose HEY DOC, however SPLINTEX is a great roughie chance. He is 2/2 on Heavy surfaces and will be right on the speed and could be the pick of them if it gets that wet. If the rain doesn't come though, DIRTY WORK has to be a bet - maps super and is genuinely flying. Trekking will get back a long way on the fence and although is easily the class of this field, may struggle to get into it as will many of the backmarkers. Not sure BELLA VELLA has come back the same horse this prep, happy to be wrong.
Wet track; potentially hedge SPLINTEX and DIAMOND EFFORT. Drier then DIRTY WORK is just an absolute bet based off his map.
OTHER RACE COMMENTS
RACE 1 - LOCKDOWN LEGENDS HANDICAP
Opening the card with a middle distance race here. Tough race and I don't have a clear angle on it. Probably need to give chances to both THINK WE'RE DUE and IRISH FLAME - happy to be against the favourite ONE MORE TRY who is 1600m up to 2040m. ONE MORE TRY peaked on her run over 1600m and it wasn't a great platform to get the 2040, suspect she needs the run at this distance before she's a winning chance. Doesn't help that I expect INVERLOCH to make this a test. SPANISH REEF is out of the ONE MORE TRY race and was going backwards - she's got no chance. CAPTAIN COOK needs to improve. One of THINK WE'RE DUE or IRISH FLAME win in my opinion, leaning slightly to IRISH FLAME - mapped both sitting behind INVERLOCH, who could lead and win.
RACE 2 - MSC SIGNS HANDICAP
WEST WIND seems to have a monopoly on this. She's aiming for 3 on the trot, and Maher / Eustace stayers seem to always get better the further into a prep they go - he's top seed. Massive respect to AFFAIR TO REMEMBER and she's probably the reason I'm staying out of this. She likely gets back from gate-9 but the track won't be too wet at this time of the meet, so it will be the best chance for horses to run on. OCEAN MISS would have to improve drastically to turn the tables on WEST WIND. WEST WIND on top, respecting AFFAIR TO REMEMBER though - staying out.
RACE 5 - LADBROKES 55 SECOND CHALLENGE HEAT 3
Toughest race on the card here - no chance I'm playing it. On a good track, HUMAN NATURE would be a short priced favourite. But with the rain expected and the chance of the track being Soft5/6 or worse by this time, happy to stay out of it. No much else to talk about here.
RACE 7 - SEPPELT WINES HANDICAP
Similar scenario to Race 5 here, no idea at all. However, NIGHT GUY is a great bet if the track is really wet come this race. Should settle close from gate-4 and be hard to beat on a boggy track. Can easily entertain a 1-2 unit play on him.
BETTING STRATEGY & TOP PICKS
RACE 1 - IRISH FLAME (no bet) - 1st.
RACE 2 - WEST WIND (no bet - respecting AFFAIR TO REMEMBER) - 1st.
RACE 3 - SANSOM (3 units @ $4.00) - 1st by 0.75L at $3.87 / $1.54 Betfair SP.
RACE 4 - SO SI BON (5 units @ $2.40) *Best Bet* - 3rd by 0.3L at $2.06 / $1.42 Betfair SP.
RACE 5 - HUMAN NATURE (no bet) - 3rd.
RACE 6 - HOT WATER (no bet) - 3rd.
RACE 7 - NIGHT GUY (no bet) - 6th.
RACE 8 - DIRTY WORK (no bet) - 3rd
Total Unit Outlay = 8.00 units
Total Units Returned = 11.61 units
Unit Profit at Betfair SP = 3.61 units
Betting Strategy has a max bet of 5 units. 'W' = Win bet, 'P' = Place bet, 'E/W' = Each-Way bet.
Speed Maps provided using Punting Form.
Analysis by @Max_Wills_.