Punters are confident Godolphin’s excellent start to this year’s racing season can continue at Moonee Valley this Saturday when Contributer returns to racing in the G2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes. Exosphere, Shards and Magic Hurricane have all won feature races for the Godolphin camp in recent weeks and Contributer is rated a $1.80 chance to join the group. The Cleaner ($6.50) and Mourinho ($7.00) appear the only danger of causing an upset. The Cleaner held out Mourinho to win this race last year and there was little between the pair when the met again recently in the P B Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield, this time the result was in Mourinho’s favour. Both horses love racing at the Valley and combined, have posted nine wins from eighteen starts. This factor could be their advantage as Contributer is yet to race around the unique Valley circuit however, as his record shows, he full of class and that counts for plenty.
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1. FORETELLER – C Newitt (11)
Settled back in the field when resuming in the G2 Warwick Stakes and was good enough late over the 1400m trip, finishing seventh (3.5 lengths) behind Royal Descent. Still only the one win from nine second up starts though and with five of his past six wins being at or beyond 1800m, just may have to give the leading chances too much of a start over the mile.
2. ETHIOPIA – R Moloney (9)
Resumed from an eleven month spell and no surprisingly, over 1400m and under 62.5kgs, never worried many from the back of the field in running eleventh in the field of thirteen who contested the BM 90 at Sandown. It has been a long time since his last win; the Australian Derby of 2012, still his only victory from nineteen starts and can’t see him breaking the drought here.
3. MOURINHO – V Duric.
The underrated galloper secured a lovely run throughout and dug deep late to get the better of The Cleaner when resuming in the P B Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield. Fitter again and comes back to his favourites track now where he has won two of his last four runs, including the G2 Australia Stakes earlier this year. Ran ¾ of length to The Cleaner in this race last year and no reason he won’t be right in the thick of it again from what shapes up as the ideal draw.
4. CONTRIBUTER – D Dunn (2)
The winner of four of his five Australian starts, including the G1 Chipping Norton (1600m) and Ranvet Stakes (2000m), since landing in Australia last year. The 6yo returns to racing here after a spell of six months but gave the indication in the two barrier trials he contested last month, that even first up over a mile, he’s more than a good chance to keep his impressive strike rate intact. First look at the Valley but worked well there earlier in the week by all reports and only needs a touch of luck from an inside draw to prove extremely hard to beat.
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5. THE CLEANER – N Callow (7)
For the first time in a long time, the Tasmanian cult-hero had a good break of nineteen weeks over the winter and has come back to racing better for it. As always, he led when resuming in the P B Lawrence and made eventual winner Mourinho, earn the victory by digging in late for the fight to the line. Loves the Valley circuit, it suits his pattern and he has won four of seven there, including this race last year. Will be in front for a long way.
6. BANCA MO – D Holland (6)
Given a break and a joined a new stable (Scott Brunton) since his last run which came in the Listed Grafton Cup (2350m) in July this year. Was a prominent figure on the country cups circuit last year and that’s where we’ll see the best of him again this campaign. Will find this company too hot first up and better suited in something longer and easier.
7. DIBAYANI – D Lane (5)
It was one month short of year between runs when this former Hong Kong galloper contested the P B Lawrence Stakes (1400m) three weeks ago. He found a lovely spot in the run but couldn’t get through his gears quick enough at the top of the straight to go with the likes of Mourinho and The Cleaner, finishing third (1.1 lengths). Was taking ground of them late at last start, gets up to a more suitable distance and will strip much fitter. A world class galloper with form around the likes of Designs On Rome and Able Friend who would not surprise by winning here.
8. BAGMAN – M Walker (10)
Continued his solid run of form with victory in Open company at Moonee Valley a month ago, his second consecutive win. The Chris Waller trained galloper was placed in last year’s Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) off a three week break, similar to the time between runs here, and with race fitness on his side, shapes up as the value chance in the race for mine.
9. BIG MEMORY – D Oliver (1)
Found himself last as they rounded the home turn when resuming from a spell in the P B Lawrence Stakes (1400m) three weeks ago. The G2 winner found room through the centre of the field and worked home soundly, crossing the line in fourth place (1.9 lengths). Excellent start to the campaign and will be finishing well here too but the speed map and Valley circuit would require him to produce a big run to be winning. Best to wait for him to get to 2000m.
10. GALLANTE – S Arnold (12)
Former import whose only Australian start to date resulted in him finishing well done the track in April’s G3 Victoria Handicap (1400m). The 5yo stallion has only had seven starts, most of which have been beyond 2000m, was then spelled again and it would be surprised to see him figure in the finish here on what we saw of him in April.
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11. KENJORWOOD – L Currie (4)
Just felt the pinch late last start, his first for six week, when fourth (0.7 lengths) in Open company (1500m) behind The United States last fortnight. Will take good benefit out of that run and whilst his first attempt in Group company since 2013’s Hobart Cup, he has the form, and liking for the Valley circuit, that will give him some hope of sneaking a place here, especially when the speed map would indicate he gets every chance from gate four.
12. NO TRICKS – S Baster (8)
Former Kiwi galloper who claimed the Listed Daybreak Lover Stakes (1800m) on the Gold Coast at her fifth Australian start earlier this year. The daughter of Savabeel spelled before returning in the P B Lawrence Stakes (1400m) where she ran sixth (2.3 lengths) behind Mourinho. Honest effort first up in good company and will be better for it however, so will be most she met in the Lawrence meaning she’ll have make significant improvement to turn the tables.
RACE OVERVIEW –
The Cleaner leads out with Mourinho, as he was in the P B Lawrence, handy to the speed along with Kenjorwood. Contributer has drawn two and will be looking to get one off the fence as early as possible and with those drawn around him pushing forward early, he’ll get his chance. At double figures, thought Dibayani was value given his run in the P B Lawrence. It was his first in a long time and he was inching ground off the leaders late. A further furlong and additional fitness, combined with what maps as the right run from gate five, should see him well in contention.
3. THE CLEANER