The Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday is set to be a re-match of the 2014 race after the first three across the line were all nominated to tackle the $200,000 sprint race for a second year in a row.
Paul Beshara’s Richie’s Vibe is the defending champion after winning the 2014 Australia Stakes a head in front of Moment Of Change while It Is Written was one length away in third.
If all three feature in the race’s final field released on Wednesday, it will be a contentious renewal of the race.
Five-year-old gelding Richie’s Vibe may have beaten home his rivals last year but he doesn’t have the best form leading into this year’s race.
The gelding has had just three starts in the past year, all of which were outside the placings. He followed up his Australia Stakes win with a midfield run in the Listed Hareeba Stakes (1200m) followed by an end of the field finish in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m).
Following a six month spell, Richie’s Vibe returned in the Group 3 Theshark.com.au Stakes (1100m) on August 30. He found himself trapped wide from the draw so had to be eased. He then clicked up to make a run around the bend under severe pressure and finished off ok without looking like a winner in seventh place.
Richie’s Vibe missed the spring and is set to run his first race in nearly five months on Saturday. Moment Of Change and It Is Written meanwhile have had a number of runs over the spring/summer and are in fine form.
Moment Of Change is one of two potential runners for trainer Peter Moody along with Dissident. The gelding went on to win the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) last autumn following his runner-up finish to Richie’s Vibe but was down on his luck during the spring.
The six-year-old gelding finished end of the field in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) and despite running well in the Group 1 Darley Classic, finished three lengths behind winner Terravista in fifth place.
Moody opted to take Moment Of Change to Perth for the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) in the summer but the local talent proved too good.
The Robbie Griffiths-trained It Is Written has had twelve starts since last year’s Australia Stakes, two of which he won – the Listed Abell Stakes (1200m) AND National Collison Centre Handicap (1200m) last time out.
Barring any last minute injuries, all three horses should feature in the 2015 Australia Stakes final field on Wednesday.
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