Sunlight with trainer Tony McEvoy (Image: Racing Photos)
The Valley plays host to the final Victorian Group 1 race of the season with the William Reid Stakes over 1200 metres on Friday night.
The eight-race card has assembled some competitive fields and the meeting gets underway with a quality three-year-old event.
Race 1: Ascend Sales Trophies Emma Boling Plate (1200m)
Anjana made an impressive return for Mick Price stable at Flemington earlier this month, not only was her performance noteworthy but her appearance was a positive surprise. I will happily admit I wasn't expecting the development she had made between campaigns. This daughter of Sepoy paraded better than I had seen previously, she has always been professional but just lacked a little bit of substance. However, into this her third racing preparation she has strengthened up physically and paraded first-up like she had improvement to come.
At the weights, Sunset Watch will need to improve to beat Anjana. However, his on-speed racing pattern will suit The Valley as he is honest, consistent and generally well-prepared for race day. He has the capacity to improve, but so does Anjana considering they were both first-up when they met at Flemington.
Marcel From Madrid looks good on paper but 'got above' himself at Flemington first-up. By 'got above' himself, I mean he was a real handful for his strapper, played up in the yard and perspired heavily prior to leaving the parade ring. Physically, he is a great type and hard to go past but I would like to see his race-day manners improve.
Chicago Cub is the value, he is a quality individual who made a good first impression when I saw him at The Valley last start. He is well put-together and if he runs up to his looks, he should be right in this. He has a slight change of gear with the cross-over noseband coming off this Friday - he may have fought the cross-over last start when over-racing in the early stages, ultimately finishing second to the promising Testifier.
Race 6: Dynamic Print Group Alexandra Stakes
Race 6 is the Group 3 Alexandra Stakes over 1600m restricted to three-year-old fillies. From a physical perspective there are two progressive fillies who are both well-supported in the market: Victory Kingdom and Mirette.
The Lindsay Park-trained Victory Kingdom has the combination of both size and strength. Often, I see 3YO fillies with big frames that lack strength and maturity, which means they require a little bit of time. Victory Kingdom has the frame and the strength which makes her physically quite impressive, she is a flashy type with some great markings.
She does pump herself up a touch on race day. She lacks a little composure and can be a touch 'lively' on race day, something that is and will continue to improve with time. She will relish the step up to 1600m based on her physical make-up - tall, lengthy and athletic, she has a plenty of room for a good set of lungs.
Mirette has made a terrific return this campaign, unbeaten in two runs to date. In her last preparation I made the comment that she was a filly who continued to progress and looking at her results this time around she has taken another step forward. Mirette is eye-catching in the yard, she is a black filly who always looks terrific in the coat. She has had a tendency to get a little bit 'toey' in the yard, but her manners are on the improve.
Angelic Ruler is a contrasting filly to Mirette and Victory Kingdom. She is on the small side, but she makes up for it in ability. She is a tough filly with a lot of purpose about her, the question mark is whether she is as effective over 1600m as she is at 1400m.
Race 7: Keogh Homes William Reid Stakes
The feature event is the William Reid at Group 1 level for the sprinters.
Sunlight heads the market and looks hard to go past after her last-start performance in the Newmarket Handicap. She possesses the right physical make-up for this event. She's not overly big, she is compact, balanced and muscular with a powerful hindquarter, all the attributes I look for in a short-course galloper.
Sunlight possesses one of the best temperaments you will see in a racehorse, she parades with her ears forward showing she is engaged, interested and focused. She has the ability to internalise her nervous energy and portrays a composed manner.
She had the benefit of a massive weight advantage in the Newmarket, at WFA she will need to take another step forward.
Written By, another three-year-old prominent in the market, was a touch on the small side early in his career but he has continued to furnish with time. Known affectionately at the Grahame Begg stable as 'Nugget', he is well suited to his name. Written By has always been a terrific mover in the yard but can be quite active on race day, again he is a galloper very aware of what race day means and because he is energetic he does tend to have a small sweat in the mounting yard. It's best to look past this and as long as he is in good condition I'm sure he will make his presence felt.
If you look outside the favourites, Voodoo Lad is a runner who could improve at odds. He hasn't paraded up to his best this campaign but was a winner third-up last preparation after two poor runs. He is a big, bold, powerful sprinter who will wear blinkers for the first time in his career - if they do what is intended, we could see a form reversal from this galloper.