A year on from a life threatening injury that almost claimed the life of Kings Will Dream, connections are now dreaming of their second chance at the Cox Plate.
Kings Will Dream won Saturday’s Turnbull Stakes at Flemington giving jockey Jye McNeil his first win at Group One level and confirm his tilt at the Cox Plate at The Valley on October 26.
Last year Kings Will Dream, then trained by Darren Weir, was retired from the Cox Plate after 500m suffering a pelvic injury that required the six-year-old import to undergo surgery and an extensive rehabilitation program.
Leading trainer Chris Waller then worked his wizardry getting Kings Will Dream not only back to the track but winning again at Group One level.
Sent off an $11 chance, Kings Will Dream held off Finche ($5.50) by a short-head with veteran Hartnell ($10) three-quarters-of-a-length away third.
Jo Taylor, in charge of Waller’s Melbourne stable, said victory in the Cox Plate would be a fairytale.
“These horses are amazing animals, the things that they can go through and come back from,” Taylor said.
“It’s a fantastic feat for a horse like him, with the nature of the injury he had not to just race but be competitive at the top level, it’s testament to the horses heart as well.
“We’ve always taken it one trial at a time, one race at a time with a horse like him knowing his history and he’s stood up phenomenally well.
“He’s clearly a champion in himself and he has the will to be here.”
McNeil has been rewarded for his hard work with rides from the top stables over the past 12 months and couldn’t hide his delight at landing his first Group One victory and possible first Cox Plate ride.
“I feel ecstatic,” McNeil said.
“He’s beaten the right horses and he’s progressing in the right way, so I’d be rapt to have the ride.”
Finche firmed from $15 into $8 favourite for the 2019 Caulfield Cup with his second placing and jockey Damian Lane was “shattered” to be beaten.
Mystic Journey was displaced as Cox Plate favourite drifting to $7, behind Avilius and Lys Gracieux at $5, with her fifth placing.
Jockey Anthony Darmanin was far from disappointed with Mystic Journey’s performance.
“She was huge, it was just the tempo of the race,” Darmanin said.
“They went so slow in front and I was in an awkward spot and Mr Quickie kept bumping me.
“She wasn’t really appreciating that but once she got out she really attacked the line.”