Melbourne hoop Ben Melham wouldn’t swap his 2015 Australia Stakes ride for any other horse in Saturday’s feature race at Moonee Valley rating the Peter Moody-trained Dissident as the deserving favourite.
Four-year-old Sebring stallion Dissident is first-up on the weekend racing in the $200,000 Group 2 Jeep Australia Stakes (1200m) from barrier seven in the small nine-horse race.
Under the standard weight-for-age conditions he carries 58.5kg for his maiden run since spending three months sidelined after his first bleeding attack suffered during his sixth to Fawkner in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m).
Before that excusable effort Dissident was on fire winning the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) – Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) double before a devastatingly close second to Trust In A Gust in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) last September.
The two Melbourne Spring Group 1s took the horse’s tally up to three Group 1 victories as he also won the Randwick Guineas over the mile narrowly over El Roca as a three-year-old in 2014.
His first-up run last autumn was in Sydney’s Listed Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) in mid-February that he backed up from a second place in to win the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m), also in Sydney in March.
This season his preparation is looking a little different including an earlier kick-off in Melbourne this Saturday.
Melham was aboard Dissident for all four of his spring runs last preparation and is excited to continue his association with the $1.48 million earner starting in the Australia Stakes.
Leading up to the Moonee Valley feature Melham said Dissident had been calm and complacent, working well for him in a couple of soft trials that he will improve on with blinkers going on for his resuming run.
“I’m really happy with the way he’s come back, he’s had a couple of soft trials,” Melham told TVN on Wednesday.
His first-up record is outstanding with two wins and two seconds from four runs, and over the distance he has won three of his also four attempts but Melham still has some pre-race queries over how Dissident will handle the 1200m in the Australia Stakes.
In his favour though is the barrier, which Melham believes will see him settling up near the front.
“He can jump out and show enough dash. He’s a good horse, a top class horse and I’m expecting that to take him a long way,” Melham said.
“I’m happy to ride him as close as he wants to be.”
Second-up Moody is looking at the $400,000 Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield Racecourse on February 14.
From there he will either go to the $500,000 Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) at the same track on Blue Diamond Stakes Day, February 28, or the $200,000 Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) on the same day.
Australia Stakes betting for the weekend is now open at [ladborkes] with Dissident leading the markets at a short $2.
He is followed in the odds by the Doug Harrison-trained Tudor ($5.50), ultra-consistent Street Sense four-year-old Hard Stride ($6) and the defending winner Richie’s Vibe ($6.50).
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