Punters are in for a treat at Flemington on Saturday with a star-studded field gathered for the Group 1 $1 million Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) headlined by returning Cups favourite Incentivise and the in-form Winx Stakes champion from Sydney Mo’unga.
Peter Moody has all but declared his recent stable acquisition, Queensland expat Incentivise as a sure thing first-up as the ultra-consistent Shamus Award five-year-old looks to kick off his spring with a win.
The bay has won his last six on the trot culminating with a 12-length demolition job at Eagle Farm on June 26 in the Group 3 Tattersall’s Cup (2400m) in his final run for Steve Tregea.
He gets the chance to prove he’s up to Group 1 grade here and retain top spot in all-in betting at Ladbrokes.com.au for both the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup this campaign.
Mo’unga meanwhile is after his third elite level success, the Annabel Neasham-trained Rosehill Guineas winner from the autumn coming off a winning four-year-old debut at Randwick on August 21 when defeating last year’s Caulfield Cup winner Verry Elleegant in the Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m).
Equal in betting with Mo’unga is then the Michael Moroney-trained Ocean Park mare Tofane, the now six-year-old having completed the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap – Tatt’s Tiara double in Brisbane over the winter.
She was very good first-up a fortnight ago in Caulfield’s Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) when three-quarters back third to Behemoth but is yet to win over further than 1400m.
Moroney remains confident Tofane can run out a strong mile and that the roomier Flemington track can help her do just that as she chases her first Melbourne Group 1 win on the weekend.
“All her good wins have been on big tracks and her Group 1 wins have been at Randwick and Eagle Farm,” Moroney told Just Horse Racing this week.
“She did struggle to get around that corner the other day at Caulfield because they were sprinting up at the time and she was the first one off the bit, but she balanced up and ran on when she got out.
“We’ve always wanted to give her a crack at the mile, and she’s certainly bred to get it.
“She’s more relaxed now in her racing and she’s been running through the line over 1400 metres.”
Former Perth mare, Reliable Man six-year-old Inspirational Girl is the other single-figure Makybe Diva fancy.
When with Grant & Alana Williams in WA last summer she won the Group 1 Railway Stakes over the 1600m before a second in the Kingston Town Classic over 1800m.
On debut for Danny O’Brien she ran a solid fifth in the Memsie Stakes and presents fitter for the run on the weekend and better suited to the mile.
Matthew Smith’s Japanese import Keiai Nautique coming off that excellent first-up Winx Stakes fourth at 40/1 and the New Zealand-trained Scared Falls four-year-old Aegon who ran the same placing (4th) first-up in the Memsie present as the others most likely.
The 2021 Makybe Diva Stakes is scheduled to run as Flemington Race 8 at 4:50pm (AEST) on Saturday’s race card.