Thursday, October 21, 2010

2010 Spring Racing Season – week 13 – The Cox Plate

Stathi Katsidis on Shoot Out
Vale Stathi - Rest in Peace

Goodness, the spring racing season seems to be progressing at the speed of light, as here we are now at one of the highlights of the carnival, the Cox Plate, the famous weight for age championship for middle distance runners.

It has always been an intriguing race, as the peculiarities of the Moonee Valley racecourse test both jockeys and horses to the best of their abilities. It has never been a foregone conclusion as to who will win this race, but this year it would be very surprising if any other horse than So You Think took the prize. As a three year old he won this race last year. In fact at the time he was two and is currently three, rising four in actual years, his birthday being 10th November.

Only nine other runners have accepted for the race this year, no doubt trainers thinking it pointless to run their precious thoroughbreds against the mighty So You Think. Typhoon Tracy who has been preparing for the Cox Plate all this spring, has been withdrawn from contention and will now contest the Myer Stakes at Flemington on Derby Day, a race she won last year. I must admit I was very doubtful of her chances of winning the Cox Plate, so will gladly cheer her on in the easier Myer Stakes.

More Joyous however is one of the acceptances for the Plate and with the 2 kg weight advantage might give So You Think a run for his money even though she has never run over the distance (2040 metres) or on the track. So too might Shoot Out, another High Chaparral boy, like So You Think. After the sudden, shocking and tragic death of his regular jockey Stathi Katsidis earlier this week, Shoot Out will now be ridden by Corey Brown. Stathi had every confidence in Shoot Out’s ability and expected him to win. I don’t dare speculate on the terrible irony if Shoot Out should beat So You Think, though the superstitious may surmise that Stathi’s ghost lent him wings.

Other contenders like the well credentialed New Zealand runner Wall Street and the indefatigable Zipping who has been placed in two Cox Plates (2008 & 2009) and recently won the Turnbull Stakes, are worthy of thought, though unlikely to beat So You Think. Whobegotyou, who was favourite for this race last year, is giving it another go, though there are those who doubt he can run the distance. He was thrashed by So You Think in the Yalumba Stakes. There’s also the Macau horse Luen Yat Forever who ran a good race behind More Joyous in the Toorak Handicap a couple of weeks ago.

The High Chaparral factor was in force last Saturday where two of his sons placed in the Caulfield Cup, Descarado winning, with Monaco Consul running third. These two ran second and third behind Shoot Out in the AJC Derby in the autumn. Descarado gave trainer Gai Waterhouse her first Caulfield Cup. Can More Joyous win her the Cox Plate?

Just as exciting as the Cox Plate next Saturday is the Group Two Schweppes Stakes, a sprint over 1200 metres. Alas, the highly anticipated clash between the super sprinter from the West, Hay List, and Black Caviar will not be staged this weekend, as Hay List, though nominated, was not among the acceptances due to displaying a high temperature over the last few days. Black Caviar is among the meagre five acceptances, but a decision on her participation will be delayed until Saturday morning. Even without Hay List it looks a fabulous race with super Sydney mares Hot Danish and Melito being part of the field.

Rain has been forecast for Friday evening and into Saturday; the track will probably be rated dead as the week has been fine and sunny - nothing like the heavy 10 rating last week at Caulfield.

I’ve noticed that the Cox Plate meeting lingers into twilight, the Cox Plate being scheduled for 5.35 pm. Just imagine if one attended the whole nine race program, which begins at 12.35pm – five hours of drunken antics by the party goers before the feature race is run! Glad I won’t be there.

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