For all the meticulous planning that goes into horse races, Cox Plate-winning jockey Darren Beadman believes instinct is the crucial attribute to winning the weight-for-age championship.
Beadman, who won the race in 1996 on Saintly, said the pressure of any Cox Plate is heightened by the unique Moonee Valley course.
“You’ve got plan A, B, C, D, E, F and G, but you’ve just got to ride on instinct when you’re out there,” Beadman told AAP.
Beadman says establishing the horse’s confidence during the race is key to handling the tight track.
“There’s a lot of movements going on but you’ve just got to keep your momentum going and keep your horse in a good rhythm,” he said.
In 1996, the field strung out in Indian file as they passed the 1600m mark.
It wasn’t smooth sailing for Saintly rounding the bend as the horse got on his wrong leg.
“When he got on the wrong leg I had to try and pull the whip over because he always laid in a little bit,” Beadman said.
“I got him back on the right leg and he just got there in the nick of time.”
Saintly would go on to win the Melbourne Cup to give legendary trainer Bart Cummings the 10th of his record 12 wins in the race.
“We really didn’t have the Cox Plate in mind,” Beadman said.
“We knew we had a chance but we didn’t think we had a super chance.”
Hartnell is on a similar path to the Cup and is the $4.60 favourite for the $6.2 million handicap on November 1.
If he can win the 2016 Cox Plate on Saturday, it will give Beadman his biggest triumph in his role as Godolphin assistant to head trainer John O’Shea.
“He’s a better horse going into the race this year than last year,” Beadman said.
“John has said that he’s trained him a lot differently and we’ve noticed that in his performances on and off the track.”
Champion mare Winx has been turned into $1.75 as she tightens her grip on favouritism.
“Obviously he’s got tough opposition but our team couldn’t be happier with the horse,” Beadman said.