Cox Plate favourite Helmet has been ranked alongside the race’s two-time champion and international Group One winner So You Think by the jockey who will ride him in Saturday week’s race.
Kerrin McEvoy, who handled Helmet in last weekend’s Caulfield Guineas success and has been aboard the colt in all but one of his nine starts, says he is “clearly a top quality three-year-old”.
To win the $3 million Group One rated as Australia’s premier race, Helmet will have to emulate the likes of So You Think who won the Cox Plate as a three-year-old in 2009 and Octagonal who was the same age when he won in 1995.
But McEvoy is confident Helmet is on a par with the best colts to have won the race.
“I think he’s right up there at the top of the list,” McEvoy said.
Helmet had a gentle introduction to Moonee Valley on Thursday, cruising a circuit of the track in even time.
“He just came here to familiarise himself,” McEvoy said.
“He took it all in his stride … it was pretty easy work.”
But even in his slower paces, Helmet showed McEvoy enough to reassure him he had recovered from his gruelling Guineas victory.
In that race, Helmet scorched along in front and held on gamely to score narrowly in what the jockey said was his personal best effort.
“The vibe I got from him this morning was that he’s got over his Guineas run really well,” he said.
“It took a personal best from the horse to win the Guineas.
“But he didn’t feel like a horse that was jaded or has gone over the top.”
Equally significant for McEvoy was the manner in which Helmet handled his first look at a track that some horses can find difficult.
“He got around the track on his right leg which is important here at Moonee Valley and he seemed to enjoy it,” he said.
As impressive and capable as Helmet may be, McEvoy is also aware that he will need to produce a top-drawer ride in the Cox Plate, especially considering he has to lose around four kilos to make the colt’s weight-for-age allocation of 49.5kg.
“I haven’t got down to that weight for about 10 years,” he said.
“It can weaken you when you cut down so much on what you eat, but I’m hoping it will be worth it.
“He’s also got to run the trip out, but that’s up to me to ride him properly on the day.”
Helmet is $3.40 favourite ahead of the New Zealander Jimmy Choux at $3.80.