Lunar Flare won the Moonee Valley Gold Cup in 2021
The Moonee Valley Gold Cup is almost as old as the racecourse itself, first run in October 1883. It was only a month earlier that William Samuel Cox had opened Moonee Valley racecourse.
Filly Castaway triumphed, taking out the ‘Moonee Ponds Cup’ as it was initially named. before it was changed to the Moonee Valley Cup the following year. Commencing at the distance of 1600 metres in 1883, the Moonee Valley Gold Cup was also trialled over 6 ½ furlongs from 1885 to 1888, and seven furlongs in 1889, before solidifying its place as a feature staying event thereafter.
The race quickly established itself as a major drawcard for the community. In 1891, 10,000 patrons were on track to see Little Bob win the first of two Moonee Valley Gold Cups. Other horses to win the race twice include Gladwyn (1914,1915), Gilltown (1939,1940), Valcurl (1945,1946), and Precedence (2010,2013).
It’s a race steeped in history, and for a long time took its place as the jewel in the crown of the Moonee Valley Racing Club. While the W.S. Cox Plate surpassed it in prizemoney and stature in the 1950s, the Moonee Valley Gold Cup remains a key staying event of the Spring. A look at the recent honour roll highlights the importance of the race.
Outstanding international Americain, a robust and striking stayer for French trainer Alain de Royer Dupre, claimed victory in 2011 on his second trip to Australia, a year after winning the Melbourne Cup.
In 2014, Prince Of Penzance triumphed, and returned 12 months later to defend his crown, where he was only narrowly denied from adding his name as a two-time winner of the time-honoured staying race. We all know what happened a week and a half later, when Michelle Payne, who was aboard for both Moonee Valley Gold Cup runs, steered Prince Of Penzance to victory in the Melbourne Cup, famously becoming the first ever female rider to win the race that stops the nation.
In 2023, the $750,000 Ladbrokes Moonee Valley Gold Cup returns to its place under lights, taking centre stage on Ladbrokes Cox Plate Eve. It’s attracted a fantastic field, with the capacity of 15 runners set to contest the 2500m event under Set Weights plus Penalties.
One of the leading contenders is 2021 winner Lunar Flare. The Grahame Begg mare was a big winner of the Andrew Ramsden at Flemington in the spring. 2019 Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare heads to The Valley off a barnstorming performance under Weight-For-Age conditions in the Group 1 Might And Power behind Alligator Blood.
Last year’s Ladbrokes Cox Plate third placegetter El Bodegon will be tested over 2500m for the first time. Chris Waller will be hoping a return to The Valley will result in a return to form for the import.
The next chapter in the Club’s oldest race is about to be written.