The Moonee Valley Cup, a prestigious horse race with a history dating back to 1883, is a prominent event in the Australian racing calendar. This race predates the famed Cox Plate by 40 years, making it one of the oldest in the country.
In its inaugural year, the race was won by Castaway, and it has since seen several remarkable performances. Over the years, the race distance has varied, ranging from as short as a mile over a century ago to its current length of 2500m, established in 1919.
Initially classified as a Principle race, it was elevated to Group 3 status in 1979, before becoming a Group 2 race a year later. It forms a crucial part of the race card on Cox Plate Day and is held under set-weight-plus-penalty conditions for horses aged four years and above.
Irish raider Francesco Guardi ridden by James McDonald storms home to win the Moonee Valley Gold Cup at Moonee Valley Racecourse in 2022
Connections celebrate Francesco Guardi and James McDonald’s win in 2022, who will be the next to claim the cup?
The Moonee Valley Cup boasts a generous prize pool of $1million, attracting top contenders each year. Despite various name changes due to sponsorship agreements, as of 2017, the race has been known as the McCafe Moonee Valley Gold Cup.
While several horses have clinched the title twice, none have achieved a triple win. Some of the winners have been significant champions, adding to the race’s prestige.
Some of the biggest winners of the Cup include:
- Francesco Guardi (2022)
- Miami Bound (2020)
- Hunting Horn (2019)
- Who Shot Thebarman (2017)
- The United States (2015)
- Prince Of Penzance (2014)
- Precedence (2010/2013)
- Americain (2011)
- Gallic (2007)
- Zipping (2006)
- Yippyio (2000)
- Streak (1999)
- Istidaad (1996)
- Kingston Rule (1990)
- Sydeston (1989)
- Reckless Tradition (1986)
- Holiday Waggon (1975)
- Wodalla (1953)
- Shadow King (1930)
- Blue Spec (1905)
- Clean Sweep (1900)
- Newmaster (1888)
Recent Moonee Valley Cup Winners
Francesco Guardi, 2022
Francesco Guardi, a dynamic young stayer from the Frankel breed in Ireland, made a significant impact with his commanding victory in the 2022 Moonee Valley Gold Cup. This win came as a surprise to many, given that this progressive horse was not entered for the Melbourne Cup that year.
His performance at the Moonee Valley Gold Cup, where he won by nearly four lengths, was so impressive that renowned jockey Shane Dye boldly declared that Francesco Guardi would have clinched the 2022 Melbourne Cup had he competed. His dominant win in the $1million race has marked him as a potential force for the 2023 Melbourne Cup.
Under the guidance of trainer Chris Waller and rider James McDonald, Francesco Guardi has been steadily improving. His performance in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup, where he led for home and maintained his pace, was a testament to his potential. Adding to his credentials was the strong performance of Lunar Flare, the previous year’s winner, who finished second in what was a remarkable Melbourne Cup trial.
Lunar Flare, 2021
In 2021, Lunar Flare ($12), ridden by Michael Dee, made a significant mark in the racing world by securing a victory in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup. This win was her most notable achievement to date, where she outperformed Floating Artist.
Lunar Flare’s journey to success wasn’t smooth sailing. From her early days, she proved to be challenging. Her initial trainer, Valmorbida, had to send her to Shane Stockdale for breaking in multiple times.
The goal for Lunar Flare’s 2022 campaigns was the Melbourne Cup. However, an unfortunate incident of a bruised heel led to her withdrawal from the race at the last minute4. Despite this setback, her team did not lose hope and instead set their sights on the 2023 Melbourne Cup.
While some might see it as a challenge given Lunar Flare will be eight by then, her trainer Grahame Begg remains optimistic. He believes that the lightly raced mare still has a lot to offer and is confident about her future prospects.
Miami Bound, 2020
In 2020, Miami Bound, the previous year’s Oaks winner, clinched a memorable victory at the Moonee Valley Gold Cup. Displaying remarkable style and agility, she defied the odds by winning the race as a $25 outsider in the betting line-up for the Melbourne Cup lead-up.
Following her impressive win, Miami Bound showcased her stamina and skill by securing third place in the following year’s Sydney Cup trifecta over the two miles at Randwick.
After her robust performance in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2600m), there was speculation that Miami Bound would receive a penalty, especially as she found her form just before the Flemington Carnival. However, she managed to avoid a weight penalty.
Despite her promising performance, Miami Bound finished 14th in the Melbourne Cup, carrying a weight of 51kg. Nonetheless, her victory at the Moonee Valley Gold Cup remains a testament to her potential.
The Moonee Valley Gold Cup 2023
Where it is raced: Moonee Valley Racecourse, Melbourne
Race time: Friday October 27, AEDT
How to watch: Sky Racing and Channel Seven’s Racing.com
The field: Lunar Flare, Vow and Declare, Future History, Cleveland, Interpretation, El Bodegon, Athabascan, Alenquer, Fancy Man, Knights Order, Sheraz, Regal Power, So Dazzling, Mount Popa, True Marvel. For all the latest odds, check the Bet Right markets here.