Damien Oliver knows what it takes to win the Cox Plate and believes his mount on Saturday, imported galloper Glass Harmonium, is the right kind of horse to give him his third success in Australasia’s weight-for-age championship.
The champion jockey is chasing another win in the $3 million Moonee Valley feature having guided Dane Ripper (1997) and Northerly (2001) to victory.
“I think he’s the right kind of horse for a Cox Plate. He’s a seasoned, older horse, tough and has consistent weight-for-age form,” Oliver said.
“I’m really pleased to be on him.
“(It) always is a tactical race. He’s capable of taking up a forward position. He’s been leading but can take a trail as well so it’s good to have two options.”
The grey has been to Moonee Valley three times for gallops to get experience of the track at which he is yet to race, but trainer Mike Moroney and Oliver both say he’ll handle it.
He has drawn barrier four and Moroney expects him to settle third or fourth behind the likely leaders Helmet and Descarado, if the latter is passed fit to run by stewards when he undergoes a veterinary inspection on Friday.
“He doesn’t step that cleanly from the gates and then he has a lot of speed from there,” Moroney said.
“But you can’t afford to not step away and for that reason he’s probably going to be third or fourth.”
Glass Harmonium is at $13 with TAB Sportsbet and Oliver respects the $3.50 favourite Helmet.
“Helmet is going to be hard to beat,” Oliver said.
“It was not a dominant Caulfield Guineas win, but Helmet and Manawanui are two very good three-year-olds.
“They ran very good time. It was a pressure race on from a fair way out.
“I suppose there has got to be that little element of doubt about him at the distance (2040m) because he’s never been at it before.
“But the fact that he gets such a great weight advantage is going to make him tough to beat.”
Glass Harmonium began his career with Sir Michael Stoute in England and was a winner three times from 11 starts including one at Group Three level over 2000m before being sold.
The Verglas entire ran 12th to Snow Fairy in the Hong Hong International Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin last December.
“This is the race we bought him for,” Moroney said.
“We had to really push him. He got out of quarantine late because he had to go back to England to do it after he ran in Hong Kong and I thought he did a great job in Queensland.
“I think he’s improved this time round but this is a big step up.
“He ran second to Tullamore in the Brisbane Cup giving him a bit of weight (4.5kg).”
Moroney has been happy with the six-year-old’s three runs this spring including his close second to December Draw in the Group One Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.
“He just got nabbed but he fought hard,” he said.
“We’re happy with him.”
Moroney said the horse could back up in the $1 million Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday week.
Second emergency, three-time Group One winner Yosei, has been scratched from the Cox Plate due to lameness in the near foreleg and the four-year-old mare is also doubtful for the remainder of the spring.