Thursday, October 20, 2016

Great Expectations - 2016 Cox Plate

cox plate_winx 6
Winx rugged after winning the 2015 Cox Plate

The Cox Plate is my favourite race of the Spring racing season and this year it looks as if it will be a classic competition, awaited with excited anticipation by all fans of the sport of kings.

A cracker field of ten contestants have accepted and include superstar mare Winx who won the race last year by over four lengths, breaking the course record.

In this year’s Cox Plate she faces her toughest opposition from Hartnell who actually ran in the race last year and finished fifth, ten lengths from Winx.  He seems a different horse this year having comprehensively won his last three starts by large margins. His only defeat this season was his first up loss to Winx in the Warwick Stakes back in August, which she won by over three lengths.

Hartnell’s form was franked by Jameka’s Caulfield Cup victory, considering that he beat her by over three lengths in the Turnbull Stakes.

Winx form this spring is faultless. She has won all her starts effortlessly. My heart will be with her on Saturday as she goes for her thirteenth win in succession and second consecutive Cox Plate, a feat achieved by very few – prime examples being So You Think, Sunline, Northerly and Kingston Town, all champions.

Though it’s hard to look beyond Winx and Hartnell, and as we all know anything can happen in racing, others who could steal the show are lightweighted filly Yankee Rose, the highly regarded French horse Vadamos and Lucia Valentina, especially if the track is rain affected.

Black Heart Bart who has won two Group 1 races and run second in two others this season, has been pretty well overlooked, but is likely to be in the finish somewhere, though I doubt he can beat Winx or Hartnell.

Though I will not be attending the Manikato Stakes meeting on Friday night it being run at the late hour of 9.30pm, I’ll certainly watch it at home.

Last year the grey speedster Chautauqua provided, along with Winx in the Cox Plate, one of the wow moments of the Spring racing carnival with his stunning last to first win in the feature race. He’s out to redeem his reputation after his disappointing showing in the Moir Stakes.

The Manikato Stakes is run over 1200 metres, which is more to Chautuaqua’s liking, so one would expect him to win this time.

He’ll certainly be hard to beat, but trying will be old Buffering, the only horse still racing who competed against the great Black Caviar.  He may be past it, but I’ve thought that before and he’s proved me wrong.

Other challengers in the field with a chance to topple the star sprinter are Fell Swoop and The Quarterback and sole mare English. Golden Slipper winner Capitalist is a lightweight chance, but his form this spring has been disappointing where he has failed to beat his own age group.

The weather forecast for the weekend is pretty dismal with heavy rain on Friday, clearing by Saturday afternoon.

God knows what state the Moonee Valley track will be in after 8 races on Friday night and another 8 races on Saturday afternoon before the Cox Plate is run at 5.00pm, but it has coped in previous years remarkably well.

I hope to reach Moonee Valley rather earlier than I did last year, by catching a different bus to the one I would normally use, it being badly affected by Cox Plate traffic conditions on its route. The alternate route to Moonee Ponds Junction appears to avoid the main traffic snarls around Moonee Valley racecourse, so perhaps it will run on time.

The support card is mildly interesting, with the usual mix of Listed and Group 2 or Group 3 class races to watch while waiting for the main event, but I’m not going to consider them here.

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