Just 10 fillies and mares will run over a mile at Moonee Valley on Friday night in the Group 2 Sunline Stakes (1600m).
The Robert Smerdon-trained Noble Protector is the runner with the highest handicap rating after the five-year-old mare won the Group 3 Schweppervescence Trophy (1600m) two weeks ago. She resumed in the race following a 12 week spell as the $3 favourite.
Noble Protector settled outside the leaders, travelling strongly to turn. She took over at the 300m and roared clear for a big four and a half length win. It was just the third Australian start for the UK import, who finished second in the Group 3 David Jones Cup (2000m) on October 18 followed by a fourth placing in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) on November 8.
The mare will enjoy the inside jump from barrier one with Craig Williams to ride as she navigates the tricky Moonee Valley circuit for the first time. She is the only last-start runner in the field.
Team Hawkes’ will saddle La Amistad in the 2015 Sunline Stakes from barrier seven with Dwayne Dunn to ride. The five-year-old mare is set to run first-up at Moonee Valley this Friday, after running third in the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) on November 1.
Robbie Griffiths will saddle two horses in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) directly afterwards but first the trainer will look to win the Sunline Stakes with Girl In Flight. The four-year-old grey mare was a fast-finishing runner-up in the Group 2 Momentum Energy Stakes (2000m) on November 8, just a short half-head behind winner Suavito.
Girl In Flight resumed four months later in the Group 3 Tressady Stakes (1400m) on March 7, finishing just shy of the placings in fourth place.
The Gwenda Johnstone-trained Precious Gem has the best record at the track, finishing in the first two in three of her four starts. She last ran at Moonee Valley on October 25, finishing runner-up in the Group 3 Eliza Park International Stakes (1600m). Afterwards she won the Mares Handicap over 1700 metres at Flemington on November 4.
Precious Gem has been unable to make anything of her three starts this autumn, finishing outside the placings. The mare will enjoy a jump from barrier two with Chad Schofield in the Sunline Stakes.
The only other runner who has previously won at Moonee Valley is Peter & Paul Snowden’s Marianne, who took out the Listed Alexandra Stakes (1600m) in March last year. The four-year-old mare has failed to win another race since but did place in both a Benchmark 85 and the Schweppervescence Trophy.
Marianne will jump from barrier three with Mark Zahra to ride.
Check out the complete field and barrier draw for the 2015 Sunline Stakes below. Open your Ladbrokes.com.au online betting account today to receive up to $250 in a bonus match on your first bet.
2015 Sunline Stakes Field & Barrier Draw
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp Rating|
|1||226x1107x6||STAR FASHION||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Michael Walker||6||57kg||95|
|2||22210×3872||MARIANNE (NZ)||Peter & Paul Snowden||Mark Zahra||3||57kg||90|
|3||310x9652x4||GIRL IN FLIGHT||Robbie Griffiths||Matthew Allen||5||57kg||95|
|4||512x1324x1||NOBLE PROTECTOR (GB)||Robert Smerdon||Craig Williams||1||57kg||102|
|5||11x374023x||LA AMISTAD||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dwayne Dunn||7||57kg||99|
|6||234621×575||PRECIOUS GEM||Gwenda Johnstone||Chad Schofield||2||57kg||86|
|7||21x0543x77||DIG A PONY||Peter G Moody||Damien Oliver||8||57kg||81|
|8||526346×735||JACINTA||Matthew Dale||Blake Shinn||4||57kg||76|
|9||x11218x728||ENTERTAINS||John O’Shea||Tommy Berry||9||57kg||82|
|10||195x5510x8||TULLY COSTA||Danny Curran||Chris Symons||10||57kg||73|