Big race jockey Craig Williams is very interested to see how the Moonee Valley StrathAyr track stands up to the two day Cox Plate Carnival that the Moonee Valley Racing Club is operating for the first time this weekend.
The Moonee Valley Racing Club decided to experiment and this year split the Carnival up into two days with the Group 1 $500,000 Manikato Stakes (1200m) being the main feature on the Friday night with the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) remaining the main attraction on the Saturday.
The Moonee Valley track has been rated a dead 4 this morning for tonight’s meeting with Williams declaring it firm after he completed a circuit on foot this morning.
“It’s pretty firm,” Williams said.
“It will be very interesting to see how the track plays over the two days.”
“This is the first time they have run Friday night and again on Saturday, so I wanted to have a good look at the track before they started.”
Williams is riding second favourite Green Moon looking for back to back Cox Plate victories after taking out the weight for age championship last year on the ill-fated Pinker Piinker.
Williams has been aboard Green Moon at all his three runs this preparation culminating with a win in the Group 1 $500,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 6 and is confident the six year old will be able to cope with any surface.
“I know with Green Moon I have a very tough versatile horse who is trained to the minute,” Williams said.
Williams has once again brought his best form to the Melbourne Spring Carnival and has already recorded back to back Caulfield Cups, winning on Dunaden last Saturday after taking out last year’s on Southern Speed and is going into the Cox Plate full of confidence on the Lloyd Williams owned Green Moon.
“”I can only go on form and when I rode him to win the Blamey I was very impressed,” Williams said.
“Lloyd told me then he would be a much better horse in the Spring and he was spot on.”
“His work and his preparation tell me that the horse is one of the toughest weight for age horses we have going around at ten furlongs, or 2040m, of the Cox Plate.”
Williams had the choice of riding either the Gai Waterhouse trained three year old Pierro or Green Moon but decided to stick with the older galloper, but is not dismissing the chances of all three three-year-olds in the race.
Waterhouse is also saddling up three year old Proisir while Team Hawkes will be represented by their Caulfield Guineas winner All Too Hard.
“If you are going to respect any of the three year olds, you have to respect all of them,” Williams said.
“It takes a very tough horse to win a Cox Plate and the 9.5kg they get is a big advantage.”
Green Moon continues to firm in Cox Plate markets and is challenging Pierro for favouritism following some constant support for the Robert Hichmott trained six year old.
Pierro still holds the top spot at $4.60 slightly in front of Green Moon at $5 with Kiwi Ocean Park at $7 just in front of More Joyous at $8 and Proisir at $9.50 while Guineas winner All Too Hard is holding his spot at $10.