Horses in the mounting yard before Dato' Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley Racecourse on 03 09, 2016 in Moonee Ponds, Australia. (Michael Dodge) Racing Photos

The Valley commences Spring with the Cox Plate Qualifier

This week I want to start with a warning. This Spring Racing Carnival you must avoid FOMO at all costs. You know, the fear of missing out!

The Spring Racing Carnival is one of the biggest events on Victoria’s sporting and social calendar, and this week the action moves to The Valley for the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes.

This is a ripper race that quite often gives us a guide to the $3 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate run in late October.

It used to be known as the Feehan Stakes, named after John F Feehan who was the original owner of the land where Moonee Valley racecourse is situated (which was first known as ‘Feehan’s Farm’). In 2005 the race was re-named after Bart Cummings’ great friend.

In fact, Dato Tan Chin Nam and Bart raced scores of horses together over a long period of time going all the way back to Think Big, who won two Melbourne Cups in the early 70’s. They also shared success with one of the greats of racing in Saintly and the champion So You Think, who won two Cox Plates for the pair in 2009 and 2010.

So what are we looking for in this weight for age race?

Well, don’t go looking for the Caulfield Cup winner here. The last Cup winner to even contest this race was Silver Bounty in 1981. But it’s a different story for the Cox Plate and even to a lesser extent the Melbourne Cup. Maldivian (2008), El Segundo (2007), Fields Of Omagh (2006), Makybe Diva (2005), Northerly (2001), Sunline (2000), Better Loosen Up (1990), Our Poetic Prince (1988) and Rubiton (1987) feature the Dato in their form lines on the way to Cox Plate glory.

And Melbourne Cup winners Fiorente (2013), Green Moon (2012), Efficient (2007) and Makybe Diva (2004/05) also came through this race.

One of the most popular horses to contest the Dato in recent times has been The Cleaner. The front running Tasmanian galloper attracted a cult following. Racegoers attracted by his humble background and menacing, relentless front-running style.

In 2014 The Cleaner was favourite at $4.40, but it was his first real test at ‘the big time’. He’d won about three Melbourne races in the previous few months, but this was weight for age and it was at Group 2 level.

The Cleaner was teamed with jockey Steven Arnold for the first time. Arnold is a patient rider who gets horses to settle on a long rein. The Cleaner was the type who wanted to win the race from the start. Arnold won that battle and The Cleaner controlled the speed before kicking two lengths clear at the turn and held on for a popular win.

Twelve months later and despite the fact he’d only won one race since, he was again favourite at $5.50. It was to be a carbon copy. This time paired with Noel Callow, The Cleaner charged along in front. He sustained a long run breaking his rivals prior to the turn. The crowd roared and The Cleaner was home again.

He came back for an unlikely three-peat last year, but at nine years of age he was past his prime and managed only a brave fifth as his career was in the twilight.

This year it’s going to be another cracking running of the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes, so get to The Valley and keep your eyes peeled for the Cox Plate winner. Don’t miss any of the Spring Racing Carnival action and you’ll avoid dose of FOMO!