Nature Strip targets G1 breakthrough

4 min read

Night racing returns to Moonee Valley on Friday night, with the traditional staging of the G1 Charter Keck Cramer Moir S. one of only two Group 1 races over 1000m on the Australian calendar.

Nature Strip (Nicconi) is aiming for a fifth-straight win in his final step to The TAB Everest, the world's richest turf race at Randwick on October 13, having broken the 1000m track record here at his previous start in the G2 McEwen S.

The weight-for-age conditions of the race certainly suit him winning his first Group 1 as he meets Houtzen (I Am Invincible) on the same terms as when he beat her last time off a barrier which should prove more suitable for him.

Houtzen is unbeaten second-up and did win at this meeting 12 months ago so can not be dismissed.

Brave Smash (JPN) (Tosen Phantom {Jpn}) is also bound for The Everest and has been building nicely through his campaign, with two thirds.

The step back to 1000m, a distance he has never raced over, is a concern for him, but you can expect him to be working home well along with his stablemate Voodoo Lad (I am Invincible), who has had an excellent preparation and is twice a winner at Moonee Valley.

The in-form veteran Ball of Muscle (Dubawi {Ire}) beat both of those horses in The G3 Heath and several The Everest contenders last start in the G2 The Shorts. He is in the form of his life and he was second in this race way back in 2015.

Viddora (I Am Invincible) was a narrow runner-up in this race last year and resumes here with his connections still hopeful of attracting the attention of the final Everest slotholder.

Star set for Stocks

A relatively small field of mares tackle the G2 Sporting Globe Stocks S. headed by Group 1 winner I Am A Star (NZ) (I Am Invincible). She is coming off a narrow win in the G2 Let’s Elope S. at her most recent start and looks to have a class and fitness edge on her rivals.

Sheezdashing (Myboycharlie {Ire}), who finished third behind I Am a Star last time, is considered her main threat but the 1600m may still be short of her best distance. She was twice Oaks-placed as a filly and looks to have returned in good form as a 4-year-old.

Mrs Gardenia (Rip Van Winkle {Ire}) was beaten 4.5l in the Let's Elope S and is the other mare given a chance by the market.

3YO's Stutt their stuff

The G2 Stutt S. has been won by some very good horses over the years and Leonardo Da Hinchi (Hinchinbrook) looks a good chance to join that honour roll.

He was narrowly beaten by the highly-rated Brutal (NZ} (O'Reilly {NZ}) last start and progresses to the 1600m for the first time. Brutal's stablemate Outrageous (All Too Hard) meets him here having campaigned in New South Wales this spring.

He was fourth in the G3 Spring S. last time out and looks a horse who will greatly appreciate the step out to the mile.

It's a similar story for Muswellbrook (Denman), who was beaten over 1500m at this track last time.

Farooq (Frankel {GB}) didn’t measure up against Leonard Da Hinchi and Brutal last time but looks a horse who will improve considerably through this campaign.

Trap searches for hat-trick

The G3 DrinkWise JRA Cup sees Trap For Fools (Poet's Voice {GB}) look to make it a hat-trick of Moonee Valley wins. The former WA galloper has already notched 13 wins in a 27-start career and his strong on-pace style should suit him here.

Import The Taj Mahal (Galileo {Ire}) is expected to improve significantly third-up into this race and offers the obvious challenge, while Australian Cup winner Harlem (GB) (Champs Elysees {GB}) gets to his winning distance range third up.

The 3-year-old fillies contest the G3 Pro Star Entertainment Scarborough S, where the lightly raced Golden Halo (Your Song) tops a very open market.

The super consistent Humma Mumma (Denman) is expected to be competitive again, while the Sydney filly Meryl (Epaulette) adds further intrigue to what is a difficult race to predict.