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Victoria’s leading horseman Darren Weir will saddle-up three of the six hopefuls that make up the official Australia Stakes 2018 field under the lights at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
Set to run as Moonee Valley Race 4 at 8:00pm (AEDT) on Australia Day Night racing program, this summer’s Group 2 $200,000 Carlton Draught Australia Stakes (1200m) is dominated by Brave Smash.
Weir’s star Japanese import jumps from barrier two with top internationally-performed hoop Craig Williams booked to ride the five-year-old Tosen Phantom entire first-up.
Brave Smash has had four runs in Australia for four top three performances including a black-type Moonee Valley win over this track / distance.
He was up against the country’s best sprinters last time out in Sydney’s $10 million The Everest (1200m) in mid-October and was only a length beaten when third to Redzel in the inaugural edition of the lucrative Restricted feature.
Down in class, a solid first-up performer and proven both at The Valley and weight-for-age, Brave Smash looks the one to beat on Friday.
He is joined in the diminutive Australia Stakes field by stablemates Ken’s Dream and Stellar Collision who are drawn in barriers five and one respectively.
Apprentice Ben Allen sticks with Dream Ahead four-year-old Ken’s Dream after riding the gelding to victory on January 13 in a Flemington handicap over 1100m.
Ken’s Dream has plenty of Moonee Valley form boasting a win and two seconds from five previous starts at the notoriously tight track, but faces a genuine challenge at WFA rising from 54kg last time out to 58.5kg under the conditions of the Australia Stakes.
Weir’s third runner is the rails-drawn Stellar Collision, also a last start winner out to upset his better fancied stablemate.
The five-year-old son of Star Witness is a three-time winner from five runs at Moonee Valley and races for the first time since a narrow upset win over Oak Door at Caulfield on Boxing Day in the Listed Christmas Stakes (1200m).
Brenton Avdulla partners the consistent High Chaparral four-year-old who is out to atone for his last start 12th to another Weir-trained Japanese expat Tosen Stardom in Caulfield’s Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) over the mile last October.
Prior to that Mr Sneaky, a genuine sprinter with a nice record over 1200m (4:2-0-1), was in outstanding form including a second in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m).
The gelding is also yet to finish worse than second first-up (3:2-1-0) and should be right at home over the distance fresh on Friday evening.
Also first-up is Lindsay Park’s untapped Snitzel entire Thronum, the four-year-old last seen finishing third when a quarter-length beaten by Jungle Edge at Ladbrokes Park in November’s Group 3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m).
This is another rise in grade for the lightly-raced galloper who has had just nine career runs for four wins and three other minor placings.
Rounding out this year’s Australia Stakes horses is the sole mare in the mix, the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Flippant coming off a resuming second on New Year’s Day to Lord Of The Sky at Flemington in the Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m).
See below for the full Australia Stakes 2018 field and barriers, betting markets to be updated shortly at Ladbrokes.com.au.
2018 Australia Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
Moonee Valley race 4 (8:00pm) – 26/01/2018
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp. Rating|
|1||x344x2123x||BRAVE SMASH (JPN)||Darren Weir||Craig Williams||2||58.5kg||107|
|2||1275537×51||KEN’S DREAM||Darren Weir||Ben Allen (a)||5||58.5kg||90|
|3||4110208×61||STELLAR COLLISION||Darren Weir||Dean Yendall||1||58.5kg||95|
|4||3311x1220x||MR SNEAKY||Anthony Freedman||Brenton Avdulla||4||58.5kg||99|
|5||121306x13x||THRONUM||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Mark Zahra||3||58.5kg||88|
|6||0533x536x2||FLIPPANT||Peter & Paul Snowden||Ben Melham||6||56.5kg||101|
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