Simon O’Donnell – Manikato and Cox Plate

Manikato Stakes

The shine of Group 1 racing goes to Moonee Valley this Friday night and Saturday, with some wonderful Group racing including the Manikato Stakes over the 1200m. I really do expect the sprinting superstar in Chautauqua to regain his form. He was only run off his legs over 1000m first up and I think he’ll be very different tomorrow night now that he’s game fit and ready to show his best.

It won’t be easy; Buffering will be fitter for his run in the Moir Stakes and I think will be in the race for a lot longer than he was in his previous start, and I’ve been impressed by Fell Swoop so far this preparation and I expect him to be not far from the leading three. Chautauqua is the star of the night though and I’ll think he’ll be the star of the race through taking out the Manikato Stakes.

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Cox Plate

The Cox Plate has been billed as a match race: Winx versus Hartnell. It’s hard to argue with that prediction, as both horses go into the race with impeccable form. The one thing that stands out to me and why I’m leaning towards Winx is that she’s been there and done it once already last year. Hartnell took his place in the 2015 Cox Plate and couldn’t get the job done. Winx did just that and I think she can do it again on Saturday.

Hartnell has definitely improved, and the true measuring stick will be by how much against the Chris Waller-trained superstar. Yes, it looks to be a race in two, but I think Lucia Valentina will find her best form and be competitive, and just because he’s going around in his fifth Cox Plate I’d love to see Happy Trails run a blinder. I believe the best weight-for-age horse in the southern hemisphere is Winx and I expect her to win the 2016 installment of the Cox Plate.

My SuperPick this week is Winx in the Cox Plate; I’ll take the 50% Profit Plus option for the win.

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Good luck this weekend at the Valley!