Peter Gelagotis’s defending champion Mourinho is one of the headline Australia Stakes 2016 nominations for the feature race at Melbourne’s Moonee Valley Racecourse this Saturday.
The opening Group 2 of the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival, the weight-for-age $200,000 Group 2 Jeep Australia Stakes (1200m) sprint attracted a bumper 19 nominations.
The Moe-based Gelagotis won the race 12 months ago with his Oratorio gelding Mourinho and the now eight-year-old veteran is back shooting for successive wins this weekend.
Upset Group 1 winner of last September’s Underwood Stakes at Caulfield, Mourinho returns to racing for the first time since his disappointing 12th to Winx in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).
He is a three-time winner from eight first-up runs and Saturday is just his second start over 1200m.
Also nominated for a first-up Australia Stakes run this year are the likes of the Phillip Stokes-trained 2014 Emirates Stakes winner Hucklebuck, Gary Portelli’s stallion Rebel Dane whose last run was a third to Chautauqua in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at the track and 2014 Toorak Handicap winner Trust In A Gust for last November’s winning Melbourne Cup trainer Darren Weir.
The form galloper heading into the clash is the Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra-trained local four-year-old Durendal who if accepted chases his fourth consecutive win.
The flying son of Medaglia D’Oro is a 1200m specialist boasting four wins and two thirds over the distance including his Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m) success at Flemington on New Year’s Day.
Another notable last start winner seeking more Melbourne success in the Australia Stakes is the Doug Harrison-trained Cranbourne sprinter Tudor.
The four-year-old Strategic stallion enjoyed his biggest win to date just last Saturday in the Listed Chester Manifold Stakes (1400m) and could be dropped back in distance but stepped up in class on the short turnaround into the Australia Stakes.
Chester Manifold runner-up Tried And Tired also features in the Australia Stakes entries for Leon & Troy Corstens, the Niello six-year-old fourth in the Standish the run before.
Adelaide raider Richie’s Vibe ran second at home in Morphettville’s Listed Christmas Handicap (1200m) last time out on Boxing Day and is entered for his fourth Moonee Valley run this Saturday.
His last look at the track was on Cox Plate Day last October when ninth in the Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m) but boasts a good record over the shorter distance of Saturday’s feature (12-4-3-1).
Two three-year-olds are also in the mix taking on the open-age field with the John O’Shea-trained Holler and Rageese for Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes.
Commands colt Holler is first-up having last run at the track on October 24 for his runaway four and a quarter-length win in the Group 3 Red Anchor Stakes (1200m), but trialled poorly when eighth of eight runners over 1050m at Randwick in late December.
Rageese also kicks off his latest campaign in the Australia Stakes and was last seen posting a credible fifth to Press Statement in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) last October.
Check out the full Australia Stakes 2016 nominations below then head to Ladbrokes.com.au to open an account with the bookmaker rewarding first time depositing players with up to $500 in bonuses with use of the code BETBONUS this summer – autumn!
2016 Australia Stakes Nominations
Moonee Valley Racecourse – 23/01/2016
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Sex||Age||Trainer||Hcp. Rating|
|1||1×21157543||CHURCHILL DANCER||G||5||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||100|
|2||113×815111||DURENDAL||G||4||Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra||98|
|5||490x9835x0||IT IS WRITTEN||G||7||Robbie Griffiths||98|
|8||1131×05962||NICOSCENE||H||4||Lee & Anthony Freedman||87|
|9||x0113105x3||OUR HARMONY||M||4||David Brideoake||80|
|10||50×6226731||OUR HUSSEY||M||8||Russell Green||62|
|11||x22x41435x||RAGEESE||C||3||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||80|
|12||47x60x123x||REBEL DANE||H||6||Gary Portelli||110|
|13||55×3404972||RICHIE’S VIBE||G||6||Paul Beshara||98|
|16||464029×342||TRIED AND TIRED||G||6||Leon & Troy Corstens||96|
|17||12111x2x7x||TRUST IN A GUST||H||5||Darren Weir||110|
|19||303766×618||WRITTEN UP||G||5||George Osborne||85|