The first Group race of the 2011 Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival takes place this Friday night, January 28th, with the $200,000 Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) lighting up the Moonee Valley track.
A cracker 10-horse final field will face off in the 2011 Australia Stakes, including reigning Horse of the Year Typhoon Tracy.
Five-year-old mare Typhoon Tracy, prepared by master trainer Peter Moody, is already a five-time Group 1 winner and is resuming racing in the Australia Stakes following a successful spring campaign.
Most recently the champion galloper ran second to Sacred Choice in the Myer Classic at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day, with Typhoon Tracy to have her first Group 1 assignment this season in the $400,000 Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) on February 12.
Due to be ridden by Luke Nolen, Typhoon Tracy has drawn ideally in barrier two for the Australia Stakes, which is shaping up as a great showdown between her and fellow five-year-old mare Ortensia.
Returning to the Aussie tracks after a stint in Hong Kong where she finished a gallant fifth in the Hong Kong Sprint on December 12, the Tony Noonan-trained Ortensia is the other early favourite for the 2011 Australia Stakes under the lights on Friday night.
Prior to her overseas campaign, Testa Rossa mare Ortensia ran third to super sprinter Black Caviar in the Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) at Flemington.
Well weighted with 56.5kg for Friday, the same as Typhoon Tracy in the weight-for-age feature, Ortensia will start one on the outside of the favourite in gate three with Craig Williams in the mount.
Other stars in this season’s Australia Stakes field include eight-year-old Scenic Shot (barrier five), Mick Price’s quality Show A Heart gelding Heart Of Dreams suffering a blow with a wide barrier 10 draw and in-form Sydney galloper Whitefriars (barrier eight).
2011 Australia Stakes Field, Barriers & Weights
|#||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight (kg)||Hcp. Rating|
|1||SCENIC SHOT||Daniel Morton||–||5||58.5||113|
|2||HEART OF DREAMS||Mick Price||Damien Oliver||10||58.5||113|
|3||VIGOR (NZ)||Danny O’Brien||Glen Boss||1||58.5||109|
|4||WHITEFRIARS||Rick Worthington||Jim Cassidy||8||58.5||106|
|5||DIPLOMATIC FORCE||Wayne Nichols||Craig Robertson||7||58.5||99|
|6||SECRET FLYER||Mark Young||Dwayne Dunn||4||58.5||99|
|7||COMMANDING HOPE||Chris Hyland||Brad Rawiller||9||58.5||96|
|8||UNDENIABLY||Mark Kavanagh||Michael Rodd||6||58.5||85|
|9||TYPHOON TRACY||Peter G Moody||Luke Nolen||2||56.5||117|
|10||ORTENSIA||Tony Noonan||Craig Williams||3||56.5||113|