Atticus Finch shoots for the Moon
Laird-trained runner looking to book his place in the Summer Cup.
The Grade 3 Betway Victory Moon Stakes is one of the key qualifying races for the Grade 1 Betway Summer Cup and it regularly produces a competitive field. This year is no different, with Saturday’s race over 1800m at Turffontein comprising 14 runners, and all but one are entries for the R5-million Summer Cup over 2000m at Turffontein on Saturday 25 November.
Five of them – None Other, Son Of Raj, Nebraas, Billy Bowlegs and Aragosta – are currently in the top 20 on the latest log issued by the handicappers but near the bottom, so a prominent performance on Saturday will all but guarantee their spots in the final field.
On the other hand a poor effort could well lead to their elimination so there is a lot riding on the race.
Sitting on the cusp of entry are the likes of East Coast, Litigation, Atticus Finch and Star Coin and they will need to just about win this to avoid Summer Cup elimination.
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This is a stakes race which means fillies receive a sex allowance and that has resulted in None Other being the best weighted runner in the Victory Moon Stakes. This Lucky Houdalakis-trained daughter of Flower Alley is highly talented and is a five-time winner from 15 starts. Last season, as a three-year-old, she won the Grade 2 Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks over 2450m at Turffontein as well as the Grade 2 Track & Ball Oaks over 2400m at Hollywoodbets Scottsville.
She has finished third behind Bless My Stars in the Grade 1 Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic and second behind Billy Bowlegs in the Grade 3 Sea Cottage Stakes, both over the same course and distance as the Victory Moon Stakes. She finished just 0.50 lengths behind Billy Bowlegs and this time will meet him on 3kg better terms so she should turn the tables.
The concern is that 1800m could be a little on the short side for None Other these days but she should be racing fresh, and with just 52.5kg and a top jockey in Muzi Yeni on her back, she could well be the one to beat.
Atticus Finch is a runner whose name is being bandied about as a possible Summer Cup winner, but he will probably need to win this to book his place. He is lightly raced and is highly thought of by trainer Alec Laird. This son of Master Of My Fate, however, has really come into his own since having been gelded and has won his last three races, looking more impressive with each successive victory.
He comes into this race with just 52kg to carry and has Calvin Habib in the irons. Habib has ridden him twice for two victories, including his maiden triumph and his first win after he was gelded. As a result, he does look the runner they will all have to beat.
Son Of Raj won the Grade 1 WSB SA Derby last season but failed in his next two starts which were two Grade 1 races at Hollywoodbets Greyville. He might not have liked the course with its short run-in and will do a lot better at Turffontein.
Evergreen Piere Strydom takes the ride so although Weiho Marwing’s charge will carry top weight of 60kg, he should put up a good effort in his first run in about four months.