Last year’s Cox Plate was the most memorable race meeting I have ever attended - a great moment of Australian racing history, where the incomparable Winx won the race for a fourth time. It was moving and exciting and left me with a buzz for days.
This year will be quite different with no Winx, but as the Cox Plate, in my opinion, is the best race of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival it is sure to be interesting.
A full field of 14 runners will contest the event and include several International horses, most notably the Japanese mare Lys Gracieux who is the current favourite. Other International raiders are Danceteria from Britain, Magic Wand from Ireland, Kluger from Japan and Te Akau Shark from New Zealand.
Locally bred contenders include Tasmanian mare Mystic Journey, Verry Elleegant, Black Heart Bart and three year old colt Castelvecchio.
Seasoned imports Avilius, Cape of Good Hope, Harlem, Homesman and Kings Will Dream round out the field.
Personally I hope that Mystic Journey will win, but I’m wary of the Japanese mare and the Internationals. Mystic Journey has the advantage of winning at Moonee Valley previously; on Cox Plate day last year where she won the Group 3 Moonee Valley Fillies Classic easily over 1600 metres.
Moonee Valley will not be as crowded this year as it was in the past three years, where Winx attracted sell out attendances. Tickets for this year’s edition are no way sold out and even Grandstand seating is still available.
The weather is forecast to be coldish with possible rain, even hail, which will also discourage the crowds and make it easier to find a good position on the fence, if it’s anything like 2016 – cold and wet.
Of course that will result in photographic conditions that will be less than perfect.
Even though it will make for a long day – the Cox Plate is scheduled to run at 4.55 pm - I hope to arrive early this year, maybe before the gates open at 10.30 am, to grab a good spot on the fence to spend the day. It depends on how early I can get myself ready and what the weather looks like in the morning. If it’s going to be like 2016, I can be relaxed about getting to Moonee Valley.
My photography friends Rebecca and George will be aiming for the same thing, so we can at least wander around without losing our spot if one of us minds the territorial claim.
That’s my idea anyway, even if it doesn’t come out quite as planned.