Two previous winners of the Group 2 summer feature at Moonee Valley Racecourse headline the Australia Stakes 2016 field this weekend with Richie’s Vibe and Mourinho after another win in the sprint showdown.
Donning saddlecloth numbers two and seven respectively the Paul Beshara-trained Richie’s Vibe and Peter Gelagotis’s eight-year-old veteran Mourinho are two of the 13 hopefuls accepted for Saturday’s edition of the $200,000 Group 2 Jeep Australia Stakes (1200m).
Due to jump as Moonee Valley Race 7 at 4:46pm (AEST), the feature was won two years ago by Danerich gelding Richie’s Vibe before subsequent Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) winner Mourinho scored the upset as a $41 outsider 12 months ago.
The Adelaide-trained Richie’s Vibe hasn’t won a race since his Australia Stakes victory two years ago, a drought the six-year-old is out to break second-up this weekend.
He comes off a nice second at home in the listed Christmas Handicap (1200m) carrying 59kg and drops to 58.5kg for the weekend with top hoop Damien Oliver to ride from a gun barrier three draw.
Drawn one on his inside and a confirmed runner thanks to the good barrier two draw is Mourinho looking for back-to-back Australia Stakes wins to kick off his Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival campaign.
Moe-based Gelagotis considered saving the son of Oratorio for next month’s Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) if he drew wide for Saturday, but will now run the horse who is out to atone for a luckless 12th behind Winx in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) in October last start.
Also drawn well in barrier four this weekend is last year’s runner-up It Is Written prepared by Cranbourne’s Robbie Griffiths.
The Written Tycoon seven-year-old chases his first win since going back-to-back in the Listed Abell Stakes (1200m) at the track last February and boasts a top Moonee Valley record.
Fourth to Lucky Hussler in last autumn’s Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m), he failed to beat home any other runners at Flemington last start on New Year’s Day when 12th to Durendal in the Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m).
Griffiths is willing to forgive that run down the straight and believes returning to his pet track for the Australia Stakes will see an improved effort from the galloper who was beaten only a long neck in the race last year and who was also third to Richie’s Vibe in 2014.
Standish Handicap winner Durendal meanwhile is the likely favourite in Australia Stakes betting this season, the Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra-trained Medaglia D’Oro four-year-old shooting for his fourth straight victory.
He handled a rise in class to win his Group race debut in the Standish when beating home Zupacharged by three quarters of a length and runs at Moonee Valley for just the second time in the Australia Stakes drawn in barrier five with Damian Lane retaining the ride.
Also returning to racing this weekend is the Phillip Stokes-trained Elvstroem five-year-old Hucklebuck who hasn’t run since his failed 12th to Flamberge at home in Morphettville’s Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) last May.
The start before he capped off a three straight winning streak with a win over Lucky Hussler in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington in November of 2014.
Along with Rebel Dane, Mourinho and Hucklebuck the fourth Group 1 winner in the Australia Stakes field is Trust In A Gust for last year’s Melbourne Cup winning trainer Darren Weir.
Brad Rawiller rides the Keep The Faith stallion who suffered an early blow drawing the outside barrier 13 for his first run since a seventh at Flemington in Group 3 company last August.
See below for the full Australia Stakes 2016 field, barriers and jockeys then visit the country’s leading bookie Ladbrokes.com.au to open your new account, depositing and quoting the code BETBONUS to enjoy up to $500 in bonus bets!
2016 Australia Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
Moonee Valley Race 7 (4:46pm) – 23/01/2016
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||47x60x123x||REBEL DANE||Gary Portelli||Brenton Avdulla||6||58.5kg||110|
|2||1310x1610x||MOURINHO||Peter Gelagotis||Vlad Duric||2||58.5kg||112|
|3||x46x111x0x||HUCKLEBUCK||Phillip Stokes||Dom Tourneur||11||58.5kg||108|
|4||12111x2x7x||TRUST IN A GUST||Darren Weir||Brad Rawiller||13||58.5kg||110|
|5||490x9835x0||IT IS WRITTEN||Robbie Griffiths||Matthew Allen||4||58.5kg||98|
|6||1×21157543||CHURCHILL DANCER||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Nicholas Hall||12||58.5kg||100|
|7||55×3404972||RICHIE’S VIBE||Paul Beshara||Damien Oliver||3||58.5kg||98|
|8||113×815111||DURENDAL||Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra||Damian Lane||5||58.5kg||98|
|9||303766×618||WRITTEN UP||George Osborne||Craig Newitt||10||58.5kg||85|
|10||7x951x1217||KIEVANN||Stephen Brown||Steven Arnold||1||58.5kg||84|
|11||129134×131||SIRBIBLE||Russell Bell||Jye McNeil (a)||7||58.5kg||85|
|12||x22x41435x||RAGEESE||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dwayne Dunn||9||55kg||80|
|13||1x3x38221x||HOLLER||John O’Shea||Craig Williams||8||55kg||80|