I don’t know about everyone else, but at Spring Carnival time every year, I tend to think about past editions of our great races.
When it comes to the Cox Plate, I reflect on the likes of Dulcify and Sunline, who both thrashed very good fields.
I think of Phar Lap, perhaps the greatest of them all.
I wish that I had been there to see Tulloch return from the brink of death to claim a remakable victory.
I imagine what it would have been like to stand trackside as Bill Collins called “Kingston Town can’t win” – or four years later when Bonecrusher raced “into equine immortality.”
I reminisce about recent multiple winners – the likes of Sunline, Northerly, Fields of Omagh and So You Think.
Well, So You Think’s not quite there yet, but he is a very short favourite to join the elite gallopers that have won the Cox Plate more than once.
Perhaps he might be the most extraordinary of the group – not that you can put him in the same league as Phar Lap, Tulloch and Kingston Town yet.
But a dual Cox Plate winner at his 10th start? You can’t say that isn’t something quite extraordinary.
Most horses aren’t anywhere near a Cox Plate start at their 10th start.
Take Zipping for example.
Placegetter at his last two runs in the Cox Plate, Zipping was running third in an open handicap at Sandown at his 10th start.
He didn’t tackle his first Cox Plate (2007) until his 25th start.
That puts into perspective how extraordinary So You Think’s feats have been so far.
But anyway, enough about Saturday’s race.
Youtube has been a great innovation – now we don’t need to back through old video cassettes to get a sense of nostalgia.
So here, let’s revisit some of the great Cox Plates.
KINGSTON TOWN (1980, 1981, 1982)
Bill Collins was an amazing caller, you just have to watch his calls of Kingston Town’s three Cox Plates. Yes, he said Kingston Town couldn’t win, but he had the ability to take any listener to the scene. That’s an amazing trait. Here’s The King’s three Cox Plates.
BONECRUSHER vs OUR WAVERLEY STAR (1986)
Once again, Bill Collins was such an amazing caller. I actually wasn’t alive when this Cox Plate was run. But the Bill Collins call, so renowned, makes me feel as I was there on track. So exciting. This is theatre.
SUPER IMPOSE (1992)
Watching this Cox Plate will send shivers up the spine of anyone who has backed So You Think at $1.45 for this year’s Cox Plate. Naturalism was an even money favourite against what is widely considered to be one of the best Cox Plate fields of all time. But what happens to him at the 600m mark is unbelievable…
The horse from heaven, he’d been disappointing before his Cox Plate run. But he had the Bart Cummings sense of timing, and it just prevailed here before shining through at Flemington in the Melbourne Cup.
SUNLINE (1999, 2000)
The mighty Kiwi mare was simply stunning in both her Cox Plate wins, however it was her second win which is a favourite of mine. I had only just turned 10 a couple of days before she won that Cox Plate, and it’s my second really strong memory of racing (the first was Might and Power in the 1997 Melbourne Cup). Pictures speak a thousand words though, so sit back and enjoy her two wins.
MAKYBE DIVA (2005)
She’d won two Melbourne Cups, a Sydney Cup, a BMW, an Australian Cup – could she add a Cox Plate to that tally? In what (in hindsight) wasn’t a terrible field, the pressure was sensationally applied at the 550m mark. But she was too good and ten days later won the most famous of Melbourne Cups.
SO YOU THINK (2009)
Okay, indulge me for a moment. This is my greatest moment in racing. I had only a couple of dollars on him at 150-1, but for me it was like winning a Cox Plate myself. I was working in an office that day and I started screaming and cheering like a lunatic. The thrill was unbelievable. And so for my indulgence purely, here is the champ’s Cox Plate win last year. Can he reproduce it on Saturday?
One thing is for sure though – no matter who wins on Saturday, this Cox Plate is one for the ages.
And if So You Think manages to win, he’ll join a pretty amazing group of horses.
Perhaps the sights will already be on joining Kingston Town as a three time winner of the race?
It’s going to be my first time at the Cox Plate, and I cannot wait.
It will be something special.
Written by Andrew Hawkins