Moody’s home, Hayes is in second and it’s a photo for third

While Peter Moody is a clear leader with two meetings still to run of the 2012-13 metropolitan season, the results for the top 10 trainers for the past 12 months highlight just how competitive racing in Melbourne has been.

The current season leader might be have an unassailable lead with 68 winners plus 10 more starters spread over the Caulfield meeting on Saturday and at Sportingbet Park (Sandown) on Sunday, and while David Hayes will finish a clear second on a current mark of 51 winners, placings three to seven are all still up for grabs.

Although this will be Moody’s fourth consecutive Melbourne trainers title, he will have achieved it with a lower mark than in those three previous years.

With 83 winners in 2009-10, 103.5 in 2010-11 and 91 in 2011-12, the Caulfield-master may not have reached similar heights this year but he would count himself somewhat lucky to have achieved what he has with the improvements shown by some of his contemporaries.

As meticulously planned as David Hayes’ move from Angaston in South Australia to Euroa in Victoria has been, the winners have taken their time in delivering results.

2012-13 has shown that the Hayes name is back as a force as he has improved from 18 city winners last season (finishing ninth) to passing the half-century with a month of the season to spare.

The eight-race cards at both Caulfield and Sandown will provide a more than interesting finale in the race for the minor trifecta placing.

The current situation looks as follows for each of the five trainers in contention. Alongside the numbers of runners they will saddle up in Melbourne this weekend:

Robert Smerdon – 38 winners – 8 runners
Peter Snowden – 38 winners – 3 runners
Mick Price – 38 winners – 6 runners
Darren Weir – 36 winners – 5 runners
Mick Kent – 34 winners – 10 runners

Finishing third in 2011-12, Robert Smerdon looks to have a good hand in the fight to retain that place in the two jumps features on Sunday with Kirribili Gold on the Grand National Steeplechase (4500m) and Brungle Cry and Westsouthwest in the J.J. Houlahan Hurdle (3400m).

He will need all of his horses, including his four runners at Caulfield on Saturday, to perform at their best to stave off the charge from four of his peers.

Peter Snowden has already improved on his previous season’s effort. He will line Launay up in Saturday’s Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) with the six-year-old well in contention with a record of one win and five placings in seven starts first-up.

Launay will be Snowden’s only starter at Caulfield and will rely on two topweights at Sandown; last start winner Denpasar in the Hyland Racecolours Handicap (1200m) and Haussmann in the BMW Handicap (1200m).

With six runners in town over the weekend, Mick Price may not emulate his second placing last season with 51 winners, but he can still nab third placing.

Darren Weir seems to train winners wherever he goes and the Melbourne circuit is certainly no different. Notching 36 city winners already this season, he has bettered his previous career-best mark of 25. Weir has five runners over the upcoming city meetings.

Cranbourne-based trainer Mick Kent – whose city strike rate has improved from 7.14 in 2011-12 to a current standing of 16.58 - returns to the top ten after a seasons absence and ten runners this weekend sees him in a prime position to topple Smerdon, Snowden, Price and Weir for the third spot.

Kent’s 34 winners to-date is more than a 50 per-cent improvement on his 21 last season.

Carrying on the Cranbourne theme of improvements, Robbie Griffiths is also back in the top ten for the first time since 2008-09 with 25 winners so far.