Melbourne’s wet weather isn’t quite as dramatic as the typhoon which has prevented jockeys travelling to Australia from Hong Kong but it is set to have an impact on Cox Plate day.
Sam Clipperton, who was to ride in the Manikato Stakes on Friday night and Joao Moreira, who had been booked for French horse Vadamos in the Cox Plate, were grounded by Hong Kong Jockey Club stewards as Typhoon Haima gathered strength.
Mark Zahra has picked up the ride on the Andre Fabre-trained Vadamos who is owned by Sydney businessman John Camilleri, the man who bred, and sold, Winx.
Despite the rain which many would think suits Hartnell, Winx has continued to hold sway with punters ahead of the 2016 Cox Plate with the two dominating the market.
The Chris Waller-trained mare will defend her title on Saturday at Moonee Valley and by race eve was into $1.75 with the rain predicted to continue.
Hartnell was at $3.50 even though he has an impressive record of four wins from seven starts on soft ground and a win and two placings from three starts on heavy.
Winx has had three starts on soft or heavy for one win and two minor placings.
“I haven’t really over analysed it,” Waller said.
“We’re good on the wet. There’s no problem there with our wet track form. And the beauty of the tracks are at this time of year they dry pretty quickly.
“You’re always worried about rain on the day, but if you’re going to worry about that you’re going to worry about a lot of other things too.”
Rain on the day is exactly what is forecast with a possible thunderstorm and hail.
After a punter outlaid $45,000 at $1.75 on Winx on Friday, the TAB is bracing itself for a storm of its own if the mare defends her title.
“It looms to be the worst Winx result yet, with a payout above the $1,466,491 paid during her 2015 Epsom win expected to be eclipsed,” TAB’s Nick Quinn said.
“Winx opened $2.80 when nominations were received and her price has never been higher than that throughout betting.
“As a result of this relentless support for Winx, her biggest rival Hartnell has eased from $3 to $3.50 and could even touch $4 by race time.”
Winx is aiming for her 13th straight win and has beaten Hartnell three times, but he has shown his improvement with his past three wins.
“It’s a new race,” Hartnell’s trainer John O’Shea said.
“She’s a deserved favourite. She’s a champion.
“We love her just as much as everyone else because she’s by one of our stallions. She’s bred by one of Godolphin’s leading clients in John Camilleri so we’ve got as much appreciation for Winx as everyone else has.”