The Moonee Valley Racing Club has sent out an SOS to trainers in a bid to save the Group 2 $220,000 Essendon Mazda Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Friday night after only seven horses were nominated.
Peter Moody’s Group 1 winning sprinter Moment Of Change headed the first round of entries with the MVRC extending nominations until 10am Melbourne time this morning.
Moonee Valley chief executive Michael Browell sent test messages to trainers on Monday afternoon informing them that the Australia Day Stakes nominations were light and was rewarded with five extra and is hoping the numbers can grow today.
Stakes winner Zedi Knight, who ran second to super mare Black Caviar in the 2012 Australia Stakes, was among the late entries.
Browell was disappointed with the interest in the first major sprint of the year but can understand owners and trainers who are looking towards the Group 1 $500,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington on February 15 as their Melbourne Autumn Carnival starting point.
“It’s always a risk at this time of the year with trainers holding off for a first-up tilt in the Lightning Stakes and also with the Sydney carnival a bit later,” Browell told the Herald Sun.
“There are some good sprinters there but there’s no doubt we would have liked a bit more quality in the nominations. We’re first cab off the rank for feature sprints and many of the high quality sprinters comeback in the Lightning Stakes.”
Moment Of Change will be the class runner following some consistent Group one form last Spring while last year’s Australia Stakes winner Sea Lord will have to show quick improvement on his last start seventh to Flamberge in the Group 3 $150,000 Standish Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on New Year’s Day.
Moody sent Moment Of Change for a short break following his trip to Perth where he was beaten a whisker by the in-form Buffering in the Group 1 $500,000 Crown Perth – Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on November 23.
That followed two Group 1 fourths at Moonee Valley in the $450,000 Programmed Moir Stakes (1200m) on September 27 and the $1m Sportingbet Manikato Stakes (1200m) on October 25 and a third to Buffering in the Group 1 $1m VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 9.
Caulfield trainer Tony Vasil has nominated Richie’s Vibe, a winner of the Listed $150,000 MSS Security Sprint (1200m) at Flemington on November 5 three starts back and a last start second to Karacatis in the Listed $120,000 Mathew Camm Christmas Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on December 26.
Peter Morgan and Craig Widdison’s promising galloper Star Rolling is also among the original entries but the lightly raced four year old will be tested over the 1200m with all his four wins being over 1600m and further.