Hours after Winx has signalled she is on track for another big spring with a win in a Sydney barrier trial, a list of her potential Cox Plate rivals has been announced.
Cox Plate nominations closed on Tuesday, with Winx headlining the 141 entries for the $3 million weight-for-age race on October 28 at Moonee Valley where the champion will attempt to join Kingston Town as a three-time winner.
There are 15 internationally-trained horses nominated including invitees Highland Reel, Scottish and Japanese horse Neorealism.
Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien, who won with Adelaide in 2014 and had Highland Reel run third to Winx a year later, has six nominations while Godolphin has four, two trained by Charlie Appleby and two by Saeed Bin Suroor.
“Of course there was one horse we’ve been waiting to come through, and to see Winx in the field and to be shooting for her third-consecutive Cox Plate, it will be an enormous build-up,” Moonee Valley Racing Club chief executive Michael Browell said.
“But to get 15 internationals, three of which were invited, is fantastic for the club.”
Since Kingston Town’s third win in 1982, only 1999 and 2000 winner Sunline has attempted to win a third, finishing second in 2001 and fourth in 2002.
Sunline’s jockey Greg Childs said he couldn’t see a horse from within New Zealand or Australia to trouble Winx this year, unless one of the 44 nominated three-year-olds emerged as genuine stars.
“There’s always other horses coming through the ranks, but they’re going to have to be something special to knock off Winx,” Childs said.
Of the internationals, Racing Victoria’s Greg Carpenter singled out Neorealism, winner of the QEII Cup in Hong Kong, as one who could challenge Winx.
“I think he is a world-class horse who can have the right racing pattern to be very hard for Winx to run down in the home straight at Moonee Valley,” Carpenter said.
Nominations: View the Cox Plate nominations here