The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
The money is coming for the in-form Nick Ryan-trained Sircconi to upset the favourite Surprise Baby as the fit horse in the Ladbrokes Feehan Stakes 2020 at Moonee Valley on the weekend.
A key lead-up into the Group 1 $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) back at the track next month offering a ballot free ride into the Australasian weight-for-age championship, the Group 2 $250,000 Feehan Stakes (1600m) field is down to eight starters on Saturday.
All-Star mile champion Regal Power was withdrawn with a spring-ending lung infection on Thursday and updated Feehan Stakes odds at race sponsor Ladbrokes.com.au are firming on a number of the remaining runners including six-year-old Sircconi.
The Nicconi gelding is on the quick turnaround having run a devastatingly close second behind the Peter Moody-trained Caulfield Cup hope In Good Health in last Saturday’s Listed Heatherlie Handicap (1700m).
That followed on from has equally close second behind Savatiano in the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) a fortnight prior and he looks fit and ready to fire over the mile on the weekend.
Drawn ideally in barrier four with Daniel Stackhouse to ride, Sircconi has been well-backed in from $8.50 to $4.50 and is expected to be ridden forward in the feature race at The Valley.
Betting on the Feehan Stakes remains led by the Melbourne Cup favourite Surprise Baby ($2.90), champion hoop Craig Williams coming aboard the Paul Preusker-trained stayer first-up.
Williams rode Vow And Declare to victory in last year’s Group 1 $8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) where Surprise Baby ran out of his skin for fifth.
The Shocking gelding had Jordon Childs in the saddle for his latest three runs during last year’s Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival when fourth in the Feehan Stakes before a Group 3 The Bart Cummings win and the eye-catching Melbourne Cup run when under a length beaten.
Owner John Fiteni, who snapped Surprise Baby up for just $5,500 in 2017, has opted for a jockey change ahead of the galloper’s spring kick-off in the Feehan Stake going for experience over youth.
“When you have got a football team, you have got the senior players in the team and you have got the junior players,” Fiteni told Racenet.
“I just wanted a senior player.
“It’s nothing against Jordie at all.”
Fiteni is bullish ahead of the Feehan Stakes despite the break between runs and confirmed plans to go from the Group 2 into the Cox Plate and then give Surprise Baby a second shot at securing the ‘Loving Trophy’ at Flemington on the first Tuesday of November.
“We expect him to win first up,” he said.
“After that he will go straight to the Cox Plate and straight to the Melbourne Cup and there is a reason for all that — the handicappers can’t touch us.
“It’s been a plan right from the time he finished the last Melbourne Cup and we haven’t wavered off it.”
Surprise Baby is at $15 Cox Plate all-in odds led by first-up Winx Stakes winner Verry Elleegant, and pays $9 as the favourite in futures Melbourne Cup betting available in full here.
Harbour Views meanwhile is the close $3.90 second elect in the updated Feehan Stakes odds, before Futurity Stakes winner Streets Of Avalon and Ryan’s other runner Mahamedeis coming in at $8.50.
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