Australia Stakes attracts quality entries

Embrace Me will be an Australia Stakes outsider at The Valley but will take part on her pet track.

A quality field looks set to contest the Group Two Australia Stakes (1200m) at The Valley, with six individual Group One winners among the nominations.

The 1200m weight-for-age race is the feature on Friday night’s program and while entries have been extended the 14 nominations taken on Monday include Hey Doc, Scales Of Justice, Begood Toya Mother, Manuel and three-year-olds Microphone and Loving Gaby.

A number of the horses nominated were taken to the course on Monday to gallop, including the Tony and Calvin McEvoy-trained pair Hey Doc and Manuel.

Godolphin-owned colt Microphone also had a hit-out at the track, as did Bons Away who is expected to wait for another race while his Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained stablemate Loving Gaby also made an appearance.

Six-year-old Hey Doc has been kept ticking over since winning the Group One Winterbottom Stakes in Perth on November 30 and his jockey Luke Currie said the gelding, who has won three times at the course including the 2017 Manikato Stakes, always enjoyed galloping at The Valley.

The Danny O’Brien-trained mare Embrace Me is another who enjoys racing at the track, winning three of her six starts there including the Group Three Typhoon Tracy Stakes for fillies last season.

O’Brien plans to run her in the Australia Stakes but he knows she faces a tough challenge.

Embrace Me, who is the outsider in an early Australia Stakes market, did not have the best of luck when a close third behind Blazejowski in a 1000m handicap at Flemington first-up and she galloped with stablemate Neurotic on Monday.

“We’re really keen to see her back at Moonee Valley,” O’Brien said.

“Her best performances by far have been at Moonee Valley.

“Albeit she’s not that well-placed at weight-for-age it’s just going to be good to get her back to a track where she performs so well.

“I think she can run well but it is a big step up to take on the established weight-for-age Group One horses.

“She has always run really well here but she needs to go to a new level to win on Friday night.”

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