A winner of his past 4 starts in succession and a winner of 8 from 11 overall, the speed machine has missed a place just once in 11 career starts. That ‘miss’ was in the G2 Euclase Stakes at Morphettville when run down in the closing stages of the 1200m and finishing one length from the winner. With continued discussion over whether he would gain a position in the Everest, the Slot was confirmed following his latest victory. Taking on the G2 McEwen Stakes at The Valley at the five furlong scamper, he went straight to the front from gate 1 and stayed in that position all the way to hold off a fast-finishing Houtzen. Mark Zahra was up for the McEwen with Damian Lane serving a suspension, however Lane is back to ride for the Moir. Nature Strip has raced 3 times over the 1000m at The Valley, recording two wins and one 2nd placing while at the distance has won 5 of his 6 appearances. Can he breakthrough for a G1 victory?
8YO veteran Ball Of Muscle has returned in superb order this preparation with wins at both starts. Returning in the G3 The Heath over 1100m at Caulfield under 57kg, he kept them chasing to score a one length victory over Voodoo Lad and Brave Smash. Second up and taken back to Sydney, he went into The Shorts at Randwick and from the front again was able to hold off all challengers and score a narrow victory over Invincible Star and Brave Smash. Glyn Schofield will again take the ride and his record when riding the gelding is superb, showing the figures of 14: 9-2-2. This will be the third appearance in a Moir for Ball Of Muscle. In 2014 he was a half-length 2nd to Buffering and then in 2016 was 3.5 lengths from Extreme Choice. Just like winning The Shorts last start at his 4th attempt at the race, can the Joe Pride trained sprinter make it a third-time lucky for the Moir? With his racing pattern of getting forward in his runs, he has the X Factor to make it happen.
With a slot for The Everest already locked away, master trainer Darren Weir will put the Japanese import over the five furlongs for the first time in his career. Resuming this campaign in The Heath under 59kg, Mark Zahra had the 6YO settled just behind the pace and he was solid to the line when 1.1 lengths from the winner Ball Of Muscle. Second-up in The Shorts, he was further back in the run in the field of 7 and was attacking the line strongly in the closing stages to be under one length from the winner, again. Last campaign when three runs in, he was a narrow 2nd to Redkirk Warrior in the Newmarket at Flemington and the prep prior was a neck 2nd over 1200m at Caulfield in his final run prior to the 2017 Everest. From two previous trips to The Valley he has a win at 1200m in the Listed Chandler Macleod and was a beaten favourite when first-up in the G2 Australia Stakes. With the speed looking to be frenetic, he looks good value at double figure odds.
It seems odd that a Queensland trained mare would be well suited at The Valley, however that is the case with the Toby Edmonds trained Houtzen. A victory would make it 4 wins in the past 7 editions to a Queensland trained sprinter if Houtzen can prevail, joining the cult-hero Buffering with his three wins in this race. After a disappointing run in the Doomben 10,000, the filly was sent to the paddock to prepare for her return as a 4YO mare. After a comfortable trial behind stablemate Whypeeo at Gold Coast, she made her return in the McEwen Stakes at 1000m. Settling just behind the speed being set by Nature Strip, she loomed up strongly in the straight and went within a short half-head of landing the win. That took her record at the track to 3: 1-1-1 and placing at both attempts at the distance. Second-up for the Moir, it is her record when two runs in that is most impressive, with the I Am Invincible mare showing a perfect record of 3 from 3.
Known as the The Schweppes Stakes, the race is officially registered as the A J Moir Stakes and is held at Moonee Valley where the club has held the race on the Friday night before the AFL Grand Final since 2013. Run over 1000m at standard weight-for-age, the race is named in honour of Alan John Moir, a former committeeman of the Moonee Valley Racing Club.
First held in 1976 as a principal race and run over 1000m, the race was given Group 2 status in 1979 and promoted to the elite level in 2013 to coincide with the date shift away from Cox Plate day. From 2007 to 2014 the race was held over 1200m and then in 2015 reverted back to the 1000m.
Offering total prizemoney of $500,000, the 2017 edition was claimed by the Gary Portelli trained She Will Reign, ridden by Kerrin McEvoy. Other past winners include Extreme Choice, Black Caviar, Miss Andretti, Apache Cat, Schillaci, the three-time winnere Buffering and the inaugural winner Scamanda in 1976.
Odds and previews are available for all the major Spring Racing Carnival races at UBET's Spring Racing Betting Hub.
|Date:||Friday 28th September 2018|
|Race Time:||21:45 AEST|
|Location:||Moonee Valley Racecourse|
|2017 Winner:||She Will Reign|
|2018 Moir Stakes Odds|
|2017||She Will Reign|