Payney’s Punt | Moonee Valley races preview

By Aydin Payne

Tomorrow sparks the start of the 2020-21 racing calendar and before we get stuck into the nine-race card, let's look back on the previous season.

What a year it was.

We saw some thrilling races in the past 12 months.

We saw Japanese gallopers Lys Gracieux and Mer De Glace win the Cox Plate and Caulfield Cup respectively.

In the Caulfield Guineas we witnessed Super Seth's barnstorming run to pip Alligator Blood by a nostril.

And who could forget Vow and Declare — trained by Kyabram export Danny O'Brien — claim the race that stops the nation.

But perhaps the win that triumphs them all came in February at Benalla, when She's Beneficial won as Payney's Punt's best of the day.

There were plenty of shocked faces in the newsroom that day, but none more so than this mug punter.

Conditions tomorrow will have the track rated a Good 4 or Soft 5 and the rail will be in its true position.

If you are following the day of racing, sit down, buckle up, grab a refreshment and remember to always gamble responsibly.

Race 1. 12.35 pm — Hcp (1600 m)

Expecting Victoria Star (6) to push forward and lead from start to finish. Looks the obvious choice and has won five of 10 starts. Stars on soft ground, but is yet to win on good rated tracks. Finished third last start in the Listed Winter Championship (1600 m) against a stronger field. Expect the only serious challenge to come from Al Galayel (2). Performs well at this tricky track and has three wins at this trip. Is third-up here and should be ready to win. A Good 4 will suit him well, with six wins coming on that footing.

Top tip: Victoria Star

Race 2. 1.10 pm — Hcp (1000 m)

A hard race to gauge with three runners on debut. Money has come for Theresabearinthere (4) which bolted it in last start at Morphettville. Has two wins from three attempts and will get a good run from barrier four. Lindsay Park's Hard Landing (1) claimed the Group Three Maribyrnong Plate on debut by more than two lengths and in front of Blue Diamond Stakes winner Tagaloa. Resumes from a 25-week spell and the weight claim will help. Jabali Ridge (3) could get in the placings, but will need to do better than past runs. For the value hunters, look for the market money on The Cruiser (7) which is on debut. Placed in a recent trial.

Top tip: Hard Landing EW

Race 3. 1.50 pm — Hcp (1000 m)

Another tricky race with an abundance of in-form fillies. Expect a fast pace with Esta La Roca (7) to lead from 3 and 6. Esta La Roca rises in class here, but cannot dismiss her sublime start to racing. Peggy Selene (8) is favourite after testing Parlophone at Sandown last start. Has two seconds on good ground and a win on soft. Should get a nice ride behind the leaders. A Beautiful Night (1) is a danger player and commands respect. Won the Blue Diamond Preview and pings at this distance with a 3:2-1-0 record.

Top tip: Peggy Selene

Race 4. 2.30 pm — BM78 (1000 m)

Expect them to fly out of the gates with 3, 6 and 8 to jostle for the lead. Brooklyn Hustle (4) is no doubt the best runner in the race. Resumes after a 39-week break and has won once when first-up. Has won at this track/distance before when she beat Yes Yes Yes on debut and will fly home. Propelle (7) is on a quick turnaround after finishing fourth last weekend. Ran the day's best final 600 m and just needs a touch of luck. Bit of value in Fill the Flute (6) who has two wins around the Valley and six wins at this distance. If there is a track pattern for leaders in early races then include in your exotics.

Top tip: Brooklyn Hustle

Race 5. 3.10 pm — BM78 (1600 m)

Looks a real toss-up between Sovereign Award (3) and West Wind (7) in the fifth. The latter finished third when second-up and has won third-up before. The 3 kg drop in weight will help and expect Nugent to position her nicely from barrier two. West Wind has three wins from four attempts on good ground. And the former won on resumption, coming from midfield at the 400 m to win with a bit in hand. Has won second-up before and at this track/distance. Bit of value in Leale (5), weight claim helps and this race looks easier than her past couple of runs. Has won third-up before and has a 4:1-2-1 record at this trip.

Top tip: West Wind

Race 6. 3.50 pm — BM84 (1200 m)

Expect Sir Kalahad (4) to drift forward. Has won three of his last four starts and flew home to win by 5L over this trip last start. Beat home More Than Exceed that day who came out and won the Mildura Cup (1300 m) at his next outing. The 3 kg claim helps and the gelding looks overs at $12. Wilmot Pass (10) won nicely at Flemington last start and this doesn't look any harder. Jamie Kah retains the ride. Condo's Express (5) resumes after 18 weeks off and loves the Valley (3:2-1-0). Should find this easier than his last two starts in the Listed Bendigo Guineas (1400 m) and the Inglis Sprint (1200 m). Should settle off the pace from barrier three.

Top tip: Sir Kalahad EW

Race 7. 4.25 pm — Hcp (2040 m)

Expect Tavirun (8) and Lord Durante (11) to lead from Mirimar (4). Mahamedeis (1) is on the quick turnaround after winning last Saturday. Drops back from 2394 m to 2000 m and he won't find this any harder. Polly Grey (7) has been racing well without any luck. Damian Lane jumps on board for the ride. Might end up too far back. Tavirun (8) has been good in past two runs. Looks the likely leader and should give a strong sight. Mirimar (4) is exceptional at this distance (5:2-2-1) and is in excellent form. Won last start at Caulfield ahead of Sircconi and three horses from that race have since won. Should find a handy spot behind the leaders and is another great each-way bet.

Top tip: Mirimar EW

Race 8. 5 pm — BM78 (1500 m)

A big field to pick from and a tough race to decipher. The favourite Winning Partner (2) is in strong form, winning well two back and finishing second after giving opponent 8 kg. In that race the quinella opened a big margin on the rest which is usually a handy form reference. Tatunka (5) is racing well and finished second behind Tavidance after a hat-trick of wins. Tavidance didn't fire a shot last week and missed the placings after being a favourite. And Sukoot (12) drops back to 1500 m after finishing fourth over the mile. His run peaked with 100 m to go last start and will be there again at the end.

Top tip: Winning Partner

Race 9. 5.35 pm — BM70 (1200 m)

They will absolutely ping out of the gates here in the last, with six to seven pushing to the front. We have settled on Sebrakate (2) who resumes after 32 weeks in the paddock. Should not have an issue with the class here and is definitely the one to beat. Finished second behind Bivouac last year. Loves racing first-up with a 4:2-1-0 record. The 2 kg claim will help. Proper Rogue (9) was disappointing last start, but gets another crack here and is third-up. Will be better off for past runs and is undefeated on good ground. He has drawn perfectly here. And the favourite Hypersonic (19) is undefeated, but is fifth emergency to run.

Top tip: Sebrakate

Best of the Day

When: Tomorrow

Where: Moonee Valley

Race 1: Victoria Star (6)