With a clear run last time out, Lucky Hussler would be heading into his defence of the William Reid Stakes this Thursday night at Moonee Valley, as a three time Group 1 winner. A luckless run in the CF Orr Stakes will have his supporters and connections, confident of his chances tomorrow night, especially when recalling the style of his victory in this race last year. He’s the rightful favourite at $3.20 – just in front of a trio of 3yo’s in Holler ($4.20), Japonisme ($7.00) and Kinglike ($8.00). The last 3yo to win the William Reid was Foxwedge, trained by John O’Shea who’ll be represented by Holler. Kinglike is one of two runners for Peter Moody – the other being Flamberge ($12), with the Caulfield trainer looking to leave the trainer caper behind him on the high of a Group 1 victory!
1. LUCKY HUSSLER – G Boss (5)
He was something beaten in the C F Orr Stakes at his most recent start, the middle of last month. Found plenty of trouble in the straight and flew late to miss picking up Suavito by three quarters of a length. Bolted in when taking out this race last year and whilst he meets possibly a stronger field this time around, form since that victory has been very strong. That combined with his record at this track and a favourable speed map, he rates as the leading hope.
2. FLAMBERGE – B Rawiller (2)
Great effort to win the Oakleigh Plate at his most recent outing just on four weeks ago, overcoming top weight and a wide barrier to hold off Fell Swoop – good again in last week’s Galaxy Stakes. Last two starts this track have resulted in a good sixth (1.8 lengths) behind track specialist Buffering in similar grade, and a second to Chautauqua. Needs a bit of luck from two to be winning at WFA, but that’s the only question over him running a bold race.
3. THE QUARTERBACK – C Newitt (6)
Caused a boilover in last fortnight’s Newmarket Handicap at Flemington, steaming down the outside fence to upset his more fancied rivals that included Chautauqua and Japonisme. Really enjoys the Flemington straight where he has the time to wind up, the tight Moonee Valley track though, might present a challenge to him though. His only been here once previously, the G2 Mitty’s McEwan Stakes where he finished seventh (4.1 lengths) behind Chautauqua. Will be giving smart sprinters a start and might not be able to reel them in up the short straight.
4. FAST’n’ROCKING – M Walker (10)
Settled midfield when resuming in the Oakleigh Plate and although he found a bit of traffic at the top of the straight, still thought he’d finish off better than his tenth (3.2 lengths). That was his twelfth G1 start and whilst he’s still searching for his first win at this level, he has popped up to fill a place more than once. Being second up should help the 5yo but from gate ten, he’ll have to produce a career best.
5. IT IS WRITTEN – S Arnold (9)
This this course – has a 33% strike rate when competing over it, and an even higher 66% place strike rate however, only two of those starts have been at this level with the best of those being a fourth (2 lengths) behind Lucky Hussler in this race last year. Hasn’t filled a place in his last six starts and although he could probably find his way around here blindfolded – would be surprised to see him win.
6. CHURCHILL DANCER – N Hall (4)
Underrated and consistent sprinter who was very good first up in the Newmarket Handicap a fortnight ago, running fourth and finishing just over a length from the winner. Only had 52kgs on his back then, and even though that was his first run in seven weeks and he’ll be improved, not sure it’ll be enough to win at this grade? Should get a nice run here from four and place chance appears his best hope.
7. GREGERS – C Williams (12)
Even though her form is solid, the fact remains her last win was in August 2014 and each of her six career wins, have been against her own sex. Drew the inside gate, had 53kgs, found a lovely spot in the run just behind the speed and had every chance in the Oakleigh Plate when resuming – where she held on for eighth (2.3 lengths) place. Draws wide out here, up 3.5kgs under the WFA conditions and needed to see her finish closer last time out to think she’s a genuine chance of winning here.
8. SCARLETT BILLOWS – D Oliver (1)
First up for seventeen weeks, the 5yo mare was ok first up in an Open fillies and mares race at Flemington, running fifth (1.8 lengths) to Miss Seton Sands. Improved with each run last time in – which included a fourth placing to Chautauqua in the G2 Gilgai Stakes. Might be able to offer a cheeky run from gate one and prove her $41 to be over the odds.
9. JAPONISME – J Bowman (11)
Excellent first up when finishing a head behind leading sprinters Chatauqua and Terravista in the Lightning Stakes, before a below expected fifth in the Newmarket. Not the only one to struggle in the Newmarket and the overall record of the 3yo earns him some forgiveness but this is his first look at the unique Valley track and combined with gate eleven; they are two queries to take into consideration when having to take $7.00.
10. HOLLER – J McDonald (7)
Tried to match it with Mahuta over 1400m two starts back, and felt the pinch the final furlong, before leading throughout to win the G1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) by 1.3 lengths. Beat some smart types last time out, but got them early in their preps and back to a dedicated sprinters field, he’ll be kept honest up on the speed. Brings a G1 WFA win into this race is stronger than any of his competitors and the Valley suits, will give them something to run down.
11. HEADWATER – D Dunn (8)
The 3yo filly finished too strongly for her opponents in the Listed Kensington Stakes first up from a spell two starts back, before being freshened up and never threatening when eighth in the Listed Hoysted Stakes. Recorded a poor post-race recovery last time out and submitted a similar effort before running fourth to Buffering in Moir Stakes October last year, but would be happy to risk again.
12. KINGLIKE – D Lane (3)
Caught late by a big finish produced by English when second (neck) in the Challenge Stakes (1000m) first up from a spell. Beat home Shiraz on that occasion who was subsequently very good in the Galaxy Last weekend and think this son of Exceed And Excel would’ve come on nicely since. Trainer Peter Moody confident he’ll run well and the 3yo has always been touted for big things – might get to prove those expectations correct here from barrier three.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Holler goes forward along with Flamberge, Gregers from wider out, Kinglike and possibly Japonisme, ensuring a good speed on up front. Tracking them from gate five will be Lucky Hussler who should be a good hope of making it back-to-back William Reid Stakes. He’ll just need to get a clear shot at them from the 600m to be swooping over the top. Think 3yo’s Holler and Kinglike will be right in the mix, especially if the track is leaning to those on the pace which, by the time this race comes around, we’ll know if it is. Like most feature sprints at Moonee Valley – this race should produce a fantastic finish with not a great deal between many over the line.
1. LUCKY HUSSLER