Stephen Baster plans to take Awesome Rock to the front in the 2016 Cox Plate even though he knows he is being chased by a champion and potential champion.
All the talk in the lead-up to Saturday’s weight-for-age contest at Moonee Valley has been around the two favourites, Winx and Hartnell.
“Winx is a champion and Hartnell a superstar and if he wins he becomes a champion,” Baster said.
Baster rides outsider Awesome Rock on Saturday and says the plan is to lead, reverting to the racing style that almost won him an Australian Cup when he was first past the post only to lose on protest.
The jockey said the five-year-old was likely to struggle to outsprint Winx and Hartnell from back in the field, so go forward it is.
“I’m not going to go like a lunatic but it will be a genuinely run race,” Baster said.
“If somebody else leads, so be it.
“I think we’d be very happy if we can run a place.”
Awesome Rock gained a start in Saturday’s race with victory in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes last month coming from off the speed which influenced how he was ridden subsequently.
Baster said Awesome Rock jarred up when 3-1/2 lengths fifth behind Black Heart Bart in the Underwood Stakes. He ran fifth again in the Toorak Handicap finishing 1-1/2 lengths from the winner He’s Our Rokki.
“His run in the Underwood was disappointing but he did pull up a bit jarry from it,” Baster said.
“Going back to the Toorak I think was a great run because they walked. If they went hard I think he would have been hard to beat.”