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Chipping Norton Stakes preview: Moody to pull one out of the hat?

March 4, 2011

The Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) has been up and down in terms of quality in recent years.

This was evident in 2007, when only five initial nominations were received for the race.

While these were of the highest quality – all five were Group 1 winners, those being Eremein, Desert War, Confectioner, Grand Zulu and Mentality – the race was open to late nominations.

Enter in three unknowns – Waltham Cross, who had his preparation for the Chipping Norton in a Class 2 at Benalla; Bay Princess, who couldn’t win maidens at Bathurst or Quirindi; and Timuana, who had struggled in two prior starts.

Also amongst late entries were Wellington Boot winner He’s No Pie Eater and Sydney Cup winner County Tyrone.

Imagine the shock when He’s No Pie Eater romped home to win easily – thankfully, he won the Rosehill Guineas at his next start, before tragically breaking a leg in a track gallop.

Luckily, this year’s edition looks a lot better than the 2007 edition.

It is a field oozing class and quality.

Melito is currently favourite, but Just Horse Racing writer Andrew Hawkins believes that he’s found one to beat the favourite.

Read his preview below:

1. Theseo – warhorse returning from an injury-enforced spell. It is hardly ideal for him to begin his preparation at 1600m but he has had three trials leading into this and is bound to be fit. He won this race impressively last year and although he’s had a less than ideal leadup, he is hard to dismiss. Chance.

2. Descarado – Caulfield Cup winner resuming. Last run was when he was pulled up in the Melbourne Cup. Hasn’t done much fresh since his first preparation. The 1600m will be more suitable first up, but I still think he will be better second up. Later on.

3. Danleigh – classy galloper on his day but he’s been racing a length or two off his best in recent times. I also believe that 1600m sees him out. He’s run good races at 1600m, but not his races. Those two factors combined make me think that he is a big risk in this race. Passing.

4. Zavite – stayer resuming from a poor run in the Melbourne Cup. Can’t completely dismiss, because he ran some nice races over short distances last preparation. I’d be surprised to see him winning though. Rough place chance.

5. Illustrious Blue
– very dour import having his first run for David Payne. He seemed to become more dour last season in England. Hasn’t run over 1600m since 2008. Will struggle to beat the ambulance home.

6. Centennial Park
– impressive first up in the Expressway before producing another good effort in the Apollo Stakes. He’s failed at all three runs at 1600m, but they have been in three of the toughest mile races in Australia (Australian Guineas, Doncaster Handicap and Epsom Handicap). Actually his Epsom run wasn’t that bad, and he’s arguably in better form now. Definite hope.

7. Maluckyday
– Australia’s most promising stayer resumes here. He finished the spring with a second to Americain in the Melbourne Cup. He is yet to be unplaced. Don’t know if he’ll be suited to this first up, but his record speaks for itself. Most definitely a chance.

8. Vision and Power – veteran on a Doncaster campaign once more. Ran last in the Apollo, won’t get the wet track he so desires here. And his second up record is not overly impressive. Happy to skip.

9. Luen Yat Forever
– former Macau champion who is having his first run in Sydney for Melbourne’s champion trainer Peter Moody. Just held his ground in the Orr Stakes, but nothing made ground so under the circumstances it was a good run. His best runs came at 1600m last preparation, including a 4th in the Toorak Handicap, under a length from More Joyous, and a 4th in the Emirates Stakes, only a head to a neck away from winner Wall Street. I reckon that More Joyous would be odds on here and Wall Street would be close to favourite. Take into account the fact they race clockwise (the Sydney way of going) in Macau and I reckon he may be right in this race. Value selection.

10. Lorne Dancer – one of four for Gai Waterhouse, this is his third run back from a very long injury break. It’s been rare in the past that he has actually had the opportunity to get three runs into a campaign. However, if he lines up, he’ll be competitive on history. His run in the Expressway was outstanding, while he raced more dour in the Apollo. I think that on his day, he has the class to win. Just don’t know how he’s going. One for the multiples.

11. Melito – outstanding win first up in the Apollo. She proved that day that she is not just a sprinter, but that she’d be competitive over further. Really, her runs at 1600m as a 3yo were good – 4th to More Joyous in the Flight Stakes and 2nd to Irish Lights in the Thousand Guineas. Her 2nd up record – four starts for three wins – is outstanding. Interestingly, she is aiming to become the oldest Redoute’s Choice-winning Group 1 winner as an autumn 4yo – the previous record was set by Allez Wonder (spring 4yo), although Fashions Afield was almost five when she lost the G1 Winter Stakes by a nose. She’s aiming to overcome the notion that Redoute’s Choice’s train off. The one they all have to beat.

12. Sacred Choice – Group 1 winning mare who was in stellar form last spring. She’s run pretty bad in two runs this prep. Probably needs a wet track. Happy to avoid.

13. Once Were Wild
– pretty good run in the Apollo Stakes on her way to the Sydney Cup. Last spring, she disappointed in an easier race second up after a good first up run. I’m almost expecting a flat second up run, before she bounces back in the Ranvet Stakes or the Australian Cup. Wait for her.

SUMMARY

There’s no doubt that Melito is a deserved favourite. She was outstanding in the Apollo Stakes. However, I think one can beat her. To me, the stars are aligning for Luen Yat Forever. I never thought I’d be tipping him in a Group 1 race down here, let alone at weight for age, but I think he can run a bold race and win his first Australian Group 1 – he’s either headed to the Doncaster or the Dubai Duty Free after this, so you’d hope for a good run! I took the $17 the other day and might have another go at the $13. I have to have Melito second, I originally had her further down but she has the form on the board. I’m expecting a big run from Maluckyday first up, although I think that they’ll want to be very careful with him – a win here could be the difference between winning and losing the Melbourne Cup. Theseo is always a chance in these kinds of races, even if he is not suited first up. Make sure you include Lorne Dancer in any multiples.

NUMBERS

9. Luen Yat Forever
11. Melito
7. Maluckyday
1. Theseo

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