This year’s $3 million Tatt’s Cox Plate (2040m) may not have a capacity field, but there is certainly a lot of depth to the race.
Not only do you have the likes of So You Think and More Joyous, who probably would have won some other editions of the Cox Plate on their ear, you also have New Zealand’s best galloper Wall Street and Macau’s top horse Luen Yat Forever.
All that is missing is representation from Singapore and Hong Kong, which would ensure it is truly the Weight for Age Championship of Australasia.
However, there is no doubt that this is an exciting field for the $3 million Cox Plate.
Just Horse Racing writer Andrew Hawkins will be attending his first Cox Plate and has analysed the field for Saturday’s feature.
1. Zipping – 9yo gelding who has surprisingly found his best form in the last 6 months. He has won two G1s over the Flemington 2000m course – the Australian Cup and the Turnbull Stakes. Classy horse on his day, has won three Sandown Classics, a Moonee Valley Cup and a Naturalism Stakes, as well as having run 4th in two Melbourne Cups. Has also placed in the last two Cox Plates. Team Williams say this is the first time he’s been targeted at the Cox Plate – every other year, he’s been targeted at the Melbourne Cup. While I think he’s better suited at Flemington, you’d be mad to leave him out of exotics.
2. Whobegotyou – 2008 Caulfield Guineas winner, 2009 Yalumba Stakes winner, he won over this track and distance in the AAMI Vase in 2008. However, as an older horse, his best form has been at a mile. This was seen by his dominant victory in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes. However, every time he has been confronted by a stiffly run 2000m+ he’s failed. His only win over 2000m was in the Yalumba Stakes, which was by no means a stiff test. If there was a WFA mile race in the spring, outside of the George Main Stakes, it would be perfect. Even the Emirates Stakes would be better! But alas, no. I think he’s a lay.
3. Luen Yat Forever – Macau’s champion galloper, it is hard to line up the form. While Macau is considered one of the minnows of racing (albeit with a rapidly growing industry), there is no doubting that Luen Yat Forever is one serious horse. A winner of 12 of his 24 starts, he was the first winner of the Macau Triple Crown – the Macau Guineas, Derby and Gold Cup. Added the Macau Cup to his list of wins before he came to Australia. Resumed with a good and slightly unlucky 4th to More Joyous in the Toorak. Never been to 2000m, but looks like he’ll handle it. Probably slightly outclassed, but it is impossible to make a definitive call.
4. Wall Street – classy New Zealander who has won 10 from 17 starts. He has come a long way from receiving a ban for being a barrier rogue after his first two starts! A typically slow maturing Montjeu, he has won his last two starts at Group 1 level – the Windsor Park Plate (1600m) and the Hastings Spring Classic (2040m). He’s settled in very well to Melbourne (as opposed to a trip to Sydney earlier this year, where he wasn’t a happy horse). The form behind him was franked when Ginga Dude thrashed a handy field in the Group 3 David Jones Cup last weekend. Doubt he can beat So You Think, but he’s a major player for the place.
5. So You Think – what more can you say about him? He’s outstanding. As Greg Miles said, this is poetry in racing. I’m sure that people will be there on Saturday just to say that they were there when So You Think won his second Cox Plate – I’m one of them. He’s unbeaten this preparation, winning the Memsie Stakes, Underwood Stakes and Yalumba Stakes. The only queries that are emerging are over his form – Dariana and Alcopop didn’t do much after he thrashed them – and over his ability to settle. But I think Bart has that solved. I’ll be disappointed if he is beaten – racing needs a champion, and come Tuesday week, we may have a legend. Top chance.
6. Shoot Out – a victory to the AJC Derby winner would be emotional, given the passing of regular jockey Stathi Katsidis earlier this week. He has been overlooked a little in calculations – surprising, considering that the form has been franked. He beat Descarado and Monaco Consul in the AJC Derby – they ran first and third in the Caulfield Cup last weekend. The concern to my eye is that he has lost a little bit of his brilliance, obviously with the Melbourne Cup in mind. I think that the Caulfield Cup would have suited more than the Cox Plate, but I think he can produce a good Cup trial. However, if the pressure goes on early, he’ll be strong at the end. Definite place player.
7. Trusting – I have been waiting to see Trusting at 2000m, he has a lot of stamina on the dam’s side in the form of Sandown Classic winner Legible. I think that he’ll handle the trip. The query is more the class at the moment. He’s been beaten easily by So You Think at set weights and by More Joyous at weight for age at 1600m. Probably unlucky not to win the Epsom Handicap though. Racing style is also an issue, especially in recent years where the winner has led or raced handy. However, has been schooled over hurdles, which may spark improvement. Could run a place.
8. Captain Sonador – Epsom Handicap winner who has raced Shoot Out on a number of occasions and not beaten him once. I think that the Crystal Mile would have suited better. He’s had plenty of starts for a spring 4yo (23 starts) and I’m not sure how much improvement he’ll have left him in. But his Epsom Handicap win was impressive, and he did beat Trusting convincingly. Looked to struggle at 2000m in the Rosehill Guineas. I think he may be one to risk, although it would be a fantastic story if the trainer from Oakey beats some of our biggest racing operations.
9. Avienus – improving mare who was dominant in the Stocks Stakes before okay runs in the JRA Cup and the Toorak Handicap. She was rather good late in the Toorak but I don’t think there can be any illusions, she never would have beaten More Joyous despite carrying five kilograms less. She meets her 3.5kg worse at the weights here. She was also on a Caulfield Cup trail before coming here, so she may struggle against some of these who have been targeted at the race. I think that handicap class is still probably the way to go for her, and although she may be a Group 1 mare in six months time, I don’t think she’s at that class yet. Not for me.
10. More Joyous – class mare who has taken all before her this spring. She’s won the George Main and the Toorak Handicap, setting a weight carrying record for a mare in the latter. However, the last horse to do the George Main/Cox Plate double was Kingston Town in 1982, while the last horse to do the Toorak/Cox Plate double in the same year was Tobin Bronze way back in 1967. She also hasn’t raced at 2000m, although breeding and her racing style indicate that she should get the trip. I think she can challenge So You Think, but only if he isn’t at his best. Another one for the place.
SUMMARY: I don’t care what anyone says – I think this is a good Cox Plate, especially considering some of the recent ones we’ve had. We’ve got two horses who are unbeaten this preparation, 5 last start G1 winners, international representation, a defending champion – it’s all good! Having said that, how do they beat SO YOU THINK? Simple – they’ll be very lucky if they can. I won’t be taking the $1.45 he now is with TAB Sportsbet, but I’ll be there to cheer him on. Could throw anything in for second, I’m going to go with the Kiwi WALL STREET. 1 for 1 at 2040m and it could be a good distance for him. For third, I’ll go MORE JOYOUS. My only concern is the hard run she had in the Toorak. ZIPPING is in career best form and has an impeccable record in the race, while SHOOT OUT will be running on at the end. I could easily have Wall Street, More Joyous, Zipping or Shoot Out second, it is that competitive a race. I’m prepared to say WHOBEGOTYOU won’t place, keep him to 1600m, he’s a superstar at that distance!
5. So You Think
4. Wall Street
10. More Joyous
1. Zipping/6. Shoot Out
Good luck everyone!
Written by Andrew Hawkins