Cox Plate Day 2012 is nearly here and one of the key support races to the $3 million feature is the Group 2 2012 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m).
Otherwsie known as the 2012 Drake International Cup, 11 quality stayers will contest the event for which the betting market remains quite open.
Currently a slight bookmaker.com.au favourite at $4.60 is Ibicenco who is an international from the Luca Cumani stable and will be having his first start on Australian soil.
The German-bred stayer has not won since his second career start in April 2011 but the proven standard of European stayers makes him a deserving favourite here.
There is a log jam at the top of the market, with Lloyd Williams-owned runner Midas Touch ($5.00) the next best ahead of Precedence ($5.50) and Ironstein ($6.00).
Midas Touch is yet to show much form this spring but has ability which was proven last year with consecutive third-place finishes in the Makybe Diva Stakes and Underwood Stakes.
The hit-and-miss Precedence has a genuine liking for Moonee Valley with four of his seven career wins coming at the track while Ironstein will be out to build on solid performances in both the JRA Cup and Herbert Power Stakes.
The clutter in the market doesn’t stop behind the top fancies, with Makybe Diva Stakes third placegetter Moudre at $8.00 and promising Michael Moroney-trained stayer Shenzhou Steeds at $10.00.
Shenzhou Steeds won both the Ipswich and Caloundra Cups in Queensland during the winter but has so far been unable to rediscover that form this spring.
Other horses in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup market include emerging Peter Moody-trained stayer Vatuvei ($13.00) and Metropolitan third placegetter Reuben Percival ($14.00).