This evening I’m riding at Moonee Valley where it’s the first meeting of the Cox Plate weekend of racing. The rail is in the true position and the track is rated in the good range. The weather in Melbourne for this evening may prove challenging with rain forecast, so it will be interesting to see how that changes the racing conditions not only this evening, but for tomorrow’s Cox Plate day also.

Race 3 is the Sweeney Estate Agents Plate over 2040 metres for mares. My ride here is LE LUDE who is trained by John Thompson. This six-year-old mare by Lope de Vega has had 28 starts for a record of four wins and six minor placings and has been a consistent galloper throughout her career. She’s had four runs this preparation with all of those being in black type company and this race sees her drop back to mares handicap grade. She is a horse that races well on both rain affected ground and firmer surfaces, so the track conditions won’t be to her disadvantage. She has very strong form lines around her this preparation and hasn’t been beaten far in her four runs this campaign. She can race on-speed to mid field to make her own luck and a low barrier draw will give her every chance to take up that position without too much work. This will be her first time racing the Melbourne way of going, so I’ll be mindful of that and help her around as much as I can. She looks well placed here under the set weights and penalty conditions and she will be one of the main chances.

Race 7 is the feature on the card, it’s the Group 1 Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes over 1200 metres run under weight for age conditions. My ride here is INGRATIATING who is trained by James Cummings. This three-year-old colt by Frosted is raced by Godolphin. He’s had 10 starts for a record of three wins, four seconds and a third placing, only missing a top three placing on two occasions in his career. He was unplaced at his most recent start at Flemington where he was disappointing in finishing ninth after starting favourite in the Danehill Stakes. Since that run he has returned to Sydney and returned back to Melbourne. He is a horse that will most likely race off the speed in the second half of the field and will need the track to be racing evenly and the speed to be on to suit horses closing off. If you can forgive his last start and he returns to his best form he will take a lot of beating in this Group 1 feature.

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