Moonee Valley Racecourse is one of the most popular race tracks in Australia. It boasts a very small home straight that is only 173m long and is the home of Australasia’s premier weight-for-age race, the W.S. Cox Plate.
Less than 7km north-west from the Melbourne CBD, Moonee Valley is a racecourse that every horse racing fan should visit. ‘The Valley’ is almost rectangular-shaped with a circumference of 1805m.
When assessing form at Moonee Valley, punters will look for on-pace runners due to the short home straight which generally favours leaders or those racing towards the front of the field.
Friday night racing is a major attraction for Moonee Valley Racecourse. The Ladbrokes 55 Second Challenge is extremely popular as it is a test of speed over the sprint distance of 955m.
For every night meeting held during the season, a heat of the 55 Second Challenge is conducted. The trainer of the fastest heat winner receives a cheque valued at $55,000.
History was created in 2018 with the world’s best racehorse, Winx, capturing her fourth consecutive Cox Plate for trainer Chris Waller. The wonder mare surpassed the previous record set by Kingston Town who won three Cox Plates between 1980-82.
While the iconic Cox Plate is held over 2040m, there is a sprint race that captures the attention of racing fans each year also. It is the Manikato Stakes which is run over 1200m and named after one of horse racing’s great equine athletes.
Some of Australia’s best sprinters do battle in the Manikato Stakes and the honour roll is impressive with Vain winning the second running of the Manikato, known back then as the Freeway Stakes. Manikato would win the race in 1979 and 1982 before the race name was changed to honour the champion in 1984.
Dane Ripper, Redoute’s Choice and Sunline would win the Manikato Stakes one after the other, before the likes of Miss Andretti, Hay List, Buffering, Lankan Rupee and Chautauqua would win the race in more recent years.
It is hard to find a better 24-hour period of racing than Manikato Stakes Night and Cox Plate Day. The Manikato Stakes meeting is held on Friday night before the Cox Plate on Saturday.
Other Group 1 features that are held at Moonee Valley include the William Reid Stakes and the Moir Stakes.
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