The Cox Plate looks made to measure for Winx and punters are getting overs for the bonny mare.
I would have Winx at half her current quote of $6.50, she’s big overs for mine for the Moonee Valley Group 1.
Trainer Chris Waller has mapped out a perfect Cox Plate preparation for his mare and so far she’s come though it beautifully.
Winx has so much going for her. Her last two wins were super performances and the last one in the Epsom, when she struck trouble before the home turn, was unbelievable.
Jockey Hugh Bowman knows her back to front and the 2040m trip is perfect.
Bowman can just hang back on Winx before he gives her some rein and allow her to unleash her trademark powerful finishing burst.
There is going to be a stack of speed in the race, which will suit the great mare down to the ground. It is also likely to suit the Aidan O’Brien trained invader Highland Reel.
O’Brien won this race last year with Adelaide and the wily Irish trainer has adapted a similar passage with this four-year-old. Like Adelaide, Highland Reel also won the Secretariat Stakes in the US and looks a very smart horse.
The overseas invaders don’t mind it a bit tough and if the leaders tear it up, like I expect they will, Highland Reel is definite chance to give O’Brien back-to-back wins.
A horse that seems to slip under the radar is Criterion and he’s my third pick.
He’s a damn good horse and is always thereabouts in these big races. I believe Criterion has improved since joining David Hayes and Tom Dabernig.
Criterion is another coming off a great win, in the Caulfield Stakes, at his last start. Coming into the Cox Plate second-up, after such a tough run, is a little concern, but if he’s recovered well enough he is a definite contender.
A lot of people have written off Kermadec. I admit he is a bit of an enigma and we don’t always see the best of him.
I just wonder whether he has a little weakness or issue. He’s an entire, but he’s not a horse Waller punches into. That worries me a little, but on his best day he’s chock full of ability.
Kermadec failed over 2000m last start, but I’m not going to wipe him after one average run. He’s definitely capable of measuring up and he’s another who will appreciate the good speed that will be turned on.
Fawkner has drifted in betting and while the wide alley makes his task a bit tougher it could work in his favour.
If I was riding Fawkner I would look to go back early and try and slot in somewhere on the grey. He needs to be ridden quietly because if he goes forward I don’t think he has much hope of winning.
The fairytale for the race would be for The Cleaner to lead all of the way.
I hate to ruin a good story, but the Tassie champ’ will probably adapt his usual role and lead, but they’ll attack him from a long way out and I doubt he has ability to handle that type of pressure in this grade.
Winx 1, Highland Reel 2, Criterion 3.