Master trainer Aidan O’Brien will be chasing his second Ladbrokes Cox Plate victory with the news breaking on Tuesday that the Ballydoyle team will target the 100th running of the legendary race with their two stables stars in Armory and Magic Wand.
Both horses will now head into quarantine and will be aimed at Australasia’s Weight-for-Age Championship, the $5m Group 1 Ladbrokes Cox Plate.
They will join the Roger Charlton prepared Aspetar (international rating – 118), from the United Kingdom, who is also set to enter quarantine, as is the Joseph O’Brien trained Buckhurst (IR – 114) who is a first acceptor for the Ladbrokes Cox Plate but is also on a potential Caulfield Cup path.
Sir Dragonet (IR – 117), who has been sold to local interests and will be trained by Ciaron Maher and Dave Eustace, is also targeting the Ladbrokes Cox Plate.
The Irish trainer created history in ‘The Race Where Legends Are Made’ in 2014 when Adelaide became the first international horse to travel and win the Cox Plate, and O’Brien has set his sights on the race again following the Japanese win of Lys Gracieux in 2019.
European three-year-old Armory is a progressive son of Galileo, who was a Group 2 winner as a juvenile and dual Group 1 placegetter. His three-year-old season has seen him win the Group 3 Royal Whip Stakes (2000m) and most recently finish a brave third in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes (2000m) at Leopardstown behind seven-time Group 1 winner Magical and current Longines World’s Best Racehorse Ghaiyyath. Armory was beaten two-lengths in the Irish Champion Stakes and now carries an international rating of 120.
Globetrotting mare Magic Wand is a familiar name to punters following her fourth placing in the 2019 Ladbrokes Cox Plate and win in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes. Magic Wand holds an international rating of 116 and is sure to have her admirers in the 2040 metre classic.
“The Ladbrokes Cox Plate continues to attract horses of the highest calibre from the leading international stables. Despite the current challenges and restrictions due to the pandemic, we are thrilled to see such high quality horses targeting our great race,” said Michael Browell, MVRC CEO.
“Aidan O’Brien knows what it takes to win the W.S. Cox Plate and he is aiming to become the first dual international winning trainer of the race.
“Along with other international trainers in Roger Charlton and Joseph O’Brien targeting the Weight-For-Age Championship of Australasia, we are set to have a field befitting of the 100th running of the legendary race.”
Ladbrokes have installed Armory a $13 chance, while Magic Wand has firmed to $15, with both runners attracting plenty of market interest since the announcement was made on Tuesday morning. Aspetar is a $15 chance, with Buckhurst at $26. Russian Camelot is the current favourite with Ladbrokes at $6.
“The Ladbrokes Cox Plate has established a well-deserved reputation as a truly world-class race,” said Dean Shannon, Ladbrokes Australia CEO.
“It is fitting, that despite all the challenges presented by the COVID pandemic, that the 100th running of the great race will include a number of true international stars.
“Aidan O’Brien is without peer as a trainer and he knows the formula required to travel horses to Australia and to win our best races. It adds another layer of interest to what shapes as a great edition of the Ladbrokes Cox Plate.”
The Ladbrokes Cox Plate currently has 109 first acceptors, with second acceptances to close at 12pm on Tuesday 22 September.