Viridine will contest the Neds Sir John Monash. Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos

2021 Australia Stakes Night Tips & Preview

Australia Stakes Night is always a great program of racing but perhaps more importantly, it is the first real indicator that the Autumn Carnival is just around the corner.

Eight races will be run and won at The Valley on Friday night and I’ve run the rule over the lot – you can find all of my 2021 Australia Stakes Night tips below.

Quest Moone Valley Summer Stayers Series Heat 1 (2500m) – 6:30pm AEDT
No. 1 Playoffs

Playoffs has been a model of consistency this prep and strikes another winnable one at The Valley on Friday night.

He needed the run when eighth of thirteen in a BM64 contest at Geelong when resuming but has missed placing in four subsequent starts, finishing a length second in BM70 company at Flemington last time out.

Now that he’s in peak condition, getting out to 2500m looks to be the ideal next step in his preparation.

Powerflo Solutions Plate (1000m) – 7pm AEDT
No. 1 Apollo Josh

All twelve of the confirmed starters in Race 2 will be making their debuts and while I’m not usually one to dive into this sort of thing, I’m going to have a little bet on Apollo Josh.

A full brother to Long Leaf, Apollo Josh returned an eye-catching trial at Flemington in the lead-up to this debut and I’d hate to miss him here, should he turn out to be excellent.

Ladbrokes 55 Second Challenge Heat 11 (955m) – 7:30pm AEDT
No. 1 Elderflower

Elderflower will take winning form into the third on Australia Stakes Night and looks beautifully placed to make it two in a row.

The Lindsay Smith-trained mare has improved with each of her three starts back from a spell, culminating in an easy win at Caulfield last time out, to the tune of nearly three lengths.

She looks to be at peak fitness for this race and while other have also won well recently, hers looks to be easily the superior formline.

Group 2 Ladbrokes Australia Stakes (1200m) – 8pm AEDT
No. 3 Viridine

Just six horses will contest the Group 2 feature race, but there are some understandably talented gallopers engaged including Viridine, who I’ve put on top.

Viridine has always hinted at above-average talent, but he really does appear to have finally started realising that potential throughout the last 12 months or so.

The Poet’s Voice gelding won three of his last four starts last winter and early spring, including both the Bletchingly Stakes and Regal Roller Stakes.

He has so far finished third in the Listed Starlight Stakes and fourth in the Listed Falvelon since resuming and has a fitness edge over all of his key rivals here.

each way
Happy Birthday Frank & Geoff Handicap (1000m) – 8:30pm AEDT
No. 7 Backpedal

This looks to be one of the more open races on Friday night’s card and a horse like Backpedal has claims on a winning, at a nice price.

Backpedal didn’t come up last prep and went back to the paddock after just one failed run, but that decision almost immediately paid dividends when she finished second in BM64 company at Cranbourne when resuming this time.

She’ll take plenty of benefit from that hit-out and we can have an each-way play at the price this week.

Melba & Me Martin Ralston Cup (2040m) – 9pm AEDT
No. 3 The Mockingbird

The Mockingbird has been a strong and consistent performer this preparation and looks the one to beat in Race 6 on Australia Stakes Night.

The Dissident mare recorded consecutive wins at Terang in November and December, and while she was luckless at Sandown two back, she charged home to finish a head second behind Perennial at Caulfield last time out.

She’ll get some relief in the weights with Melissa Julius aboard and with clear passage, she can fight out the finish again.

best bet
VOBIS Gold Carat (1200m) – 9:30pm AEDT
No. 6 Zesty Belle

Zesty Belle has recorded two wins from as many starts back this time and the VOBIS Gold Carat looks the perfect feature for her.

Zesty Belle has been a good horse for the Ellerton & Zahra stable throughout her career but dare I say it – she looks to have returned an even better galloper this time.

He broke her maiden comfortably at Mornington when resuming and made a successful transition to Saturday city company when again beating a BM70 field with ease.

Fitter third-up, she’s my best bet on the Australia Stakes Night card.

Dynamic Print Group Handicap (1200m) – 10pm AEDT
No. 1 Comte

Comte has found form around some quality gallopers this preparation and can win the last on Australia Stakes Night.

The Pins gelding won at Mornington when resuming in November before finishing fifth, only a length and a half behind Bandersnatch in a better race here at The Valley.

He returned a rare flat effort two back, but responded with another competitive effort to finish a length and a half behind the winner at Caulfield last time out.

I’m confident that he will step out in peak order on Friday night and he is another horse that will get some relief in the weights with apprentice Lewis German booked to ride.