Faatinah has the outside barrier against a quality field in the Moir Stakes but champion trainer David Hayes believes the gelding is still being underestimated in the Group One sprint.
Seven-year-old Faatinah has finished sixth in the past two editions of the Moir (1000m) at The Valley and heads to his latest attempt off a recent win in the Group Two McEwen Stakes over the course and distance on September 7.
That improved Faatinah’s impressive first-up record and while his second-up statistics are not as flash, Hayes and his Lindsay Park co-trainers have tried to keep him fresh for Friday night’s Moir.
Hayes lamented barrier 15 for Faatinah but hoped the race could still pan out for the gelding who was a $31 chance on Thursday.
“It is one of those races where I reckon there’s a lot of speed and a lot of swoopers and I’m hoping he might be able to get one of those lucky runs on the back of the speed, in between the slow ones and the fast ones,” Hayes said.
“I think the market has got him totally wrong because the two at the top of the market (Nature Strip and Sunlight) are coming off failures and he’s coming off a good win.
“Not like the horses at the head of the market, his last run was nearly a career-best.
“So he’s an in-form horse.
“He nearly won it two years ago. He got stuck on the fence.
“Last year he ran free on the pace and emptied out.
“I think he’s going better than last year.”
Nature Strip and Sunlight ran in the Concorde Stakes in Sydney where Nature Strip over-raced and finished fourth and Sunlight fifth.
Nature Strip has barrier one.
“Obviously, there is going to plenty of speed on here,” his trainer Chris Waller said.
“We won’t be taking away the speed from him. We will simply let him jump and be as settled as he possibly can be without over-racing, which was our intention last start, but when the pace slackened it left us in a very tricky position.”
Sunlight’s trainer Tony McEvoy insists the star mare has tightened up and expects a strong showing but is also wary of barrier 10 and 1000m.
“I’m very pleased with her. I’m nervous for her with how she maps in the race from the barrier,” McEvoy said.
“I’m sure she’ll run a heck of a race and be very, very competitive because we’re going to get beautiful ground and that’s what she likes.”