Moonee Valley R7 | The Alister Clark Stakes | 2040m 3YO SW G2   | 9:30pm EDST

The Track

The track is currently a Good 4 with the rail out 4m. Sunny weather on Friday should see us racing on a Good 3 surface.

Historically, on-pace & handy runners have an advantage and it is difficult to make up ground from well back in the field.

Speed and Tactics 

Cliffs Edge (4) is a free running type (taken to the extreme in the Australian Guineas) and he looks the logical leader here. There’s a notable lack of other speed in the race with perhaps Salsamor (6 – blinkers first time) and North Afrika (10) ridden to take up positions just off the lead.

The pace will come down to how new jockey Jamie Mott rates Cliffs Edge. What is very clear from his profile is that he naturally has a good cruising speed, so even without pressure he’s still likely to roll along at somewhere near a genuine pace.

Early Pace Rating: Average

Late Pace Rating: Average

Best Suited: Lead to 3 lengths off the lead

WFA Performance Ratings - Winning Benchmark

The winning standard of this race largely depends on Cliffs Edge. He has the proven figures to push this race into the 97-98 range at the weights, which is beyond the career peak of all other runners. If he is well below his best off that tough run in The Australian Guineas then this could end up a well below average rating G2, with a winning figure in the 92-96 range.

Race Assessment

1. Cliffs Edge: Forecast 96-97. Assessed $1.65

He set a near record speed on the lead in the Australian Guineas, the fifth fastest first section rating in the last 20 years of races at Flemington 1600m. Prior to that he’d returned as good if not better than ever with a 96 first up rating and 98 second up over 1400m. In three runs at 2000m last campaign he ran 96.1 and then two peak performances of 97.4 and 97.5. Stepping up to the 2040m here looks ideal, the question is whether he can rebound off last start and get back to his prior ratings? There are no guarantees, but a little bit of research shows me that there is no consistent pattern at all of horses racing flat next start coming off extremely fast run first sections over 1600m. Of course some do fail, but that can happen to any horse in any race for any number of reasons. There are many examples of similar runners going on to win or run better than their starting price suggests at their next start. With that in mind, plus the fact that Cliffs Edge has been such a consistent performer at a level better than these and he’s the likely leader on a favourable track, I have to consider him a dominant top-rater here.

2. Astoria: Forecast 94-96. Assessed $4.60

Both runs this preparation have been very solid. Stepping up to 2040m here 3rd up where he’s likely to settle no more than 3-4L off the leader is the ideal scenario for him to make the two to three length improvement he needs to hit his peak in the 95-96 range. If he can do that then he poses a definite threat.

3. Levendi: Forecast 90-95. Assessed $15.00

He’s a hard horse to assess. He was okay first up over an unsuitable 1400m and then somewhat forgivable in the Australian Guineas when fired up early on a hot pace. His Spring form deserves some respect, but it would be a mighty effort to turn around a 25L defeat last start, even if there were excuses. I can’t mark him any shorter than $16 and if he is easy in the market, I’d want to mark him longer.

6. Belfast: Forecast 88-90. Assessed $26.00

He ran okay in the 1800m Autumn Classic last start (finishing behind Astoria.) He needs a big new peak here, so much be considered a longshot.

8. Think Positive: 87-89. Assessed $51.00

He had no luck in the Autumn Classic last start but was 60/1. It’s hard to have him any shorter in this race.

9. Castleton: Forecast 85-90. Assessed $51.00

He’ll be well suited by the step up to 2040m here, but the amount of improvement he needs to make in order to win looks far too great.

7. Whoomph: Forecast 83-88. Assessed $67.00

Has had excuses in his last two, but they were Maiden class. A decent 2YO run behind Royal Symphony is the main reference that prevents him being marked 200/1.

12. Bemboka Queen: Forecast 85-87. Assessed $67.00

Comes off a strong win LS but that race was many lengths below the standard of this.

5. Pissaro: Forecast 75-87. Assessed $201.00

He was 4th in the VRC Derby last Spring, but three runs this preparation have been very poor.

Betting Strategy

The uncertainty about whether Cliffs Edge can bounce back from last start is the key factor in this race and the betting market intelligence as the race approaches is certainly relevant in such scenarios.

If Cliffs Edge is supported or at least very solid in the market then I’d happily back him at $1.75+ (stake 2.4% of bank)

If he’s a notable drifter then I’m more inclined to stay out and watch the race without any regrets, regardless of the result.

 BACK – CLIFFS EDGE – Bet to WIN at > $1.75 – Stake 2.2% of your total bank.

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