Despite Covid 19 restrictions being eased in Melbourne, the Cox Plate meeting will be run without public attendance. I’d love to be there at my favourite race, but I’ll just have to watch it on television as has been the case all through the Spring Racing Carnival.
The weather is forecast to be pretty dire, so I’ll probably be glad not to put up with cold and wet conditions similar to last year’s Cox Plate.
A full field of 14 runners will be contesting the event this year and a likely winner does not stand out, though there are several with the credentials to take the prize.
The last five Cox Plates were won by a mare, admittedly the great Winx being victorious in four of them with Japanese mare Lys Gracieux winning the 2019 edition.
Four mares are part of the field this year, notably Arcadia Queen and Probabeel who are last start winners and ooze class.
Of the male contingent Kolding and Russian Camelot are of the most interest, though there are question marks over both of them. Kolding has been in great form in Sydney winning the Group 1 George Main Stakes and Group 2 Hill stakes at his last two starts. Those two victories were on good tracks and his record on soft tracks is not that good. Also, the last time he raced in Melbourne, it was reported he didn’t handle the Melbourne way of going - anti clockwise vs clockwise as in Sydney.
Russian Camelot was being hailed as a potential champion of the Spring Racing Carnival until his defeat in the Caulfield Stakes by Arcadia Queen, so with the bubble burst at least he’ll start at longer odds. He’s also drawn the widest barrier which may be either a blessing or a curse.
There are several International runners Aspetar, Magic Wand (now scratched) and Armory who all have good form in Europe. Magic Wand ran fourth in last year’s Cox Plate and won the Mackinnon Stakes on the last day of the 2019 Spring carnival.
The oldest horse in the race is Humidor (now 8 years old) and the youngest is Jameka’s little brother Grandslam, a three year old colt who, like 2013 Cox Plate winner Shamus Award, ran third in the Caulfield Guineas at his last start.
Humidor finished a narrow second to Winx in the 2017 Cox Plate and ran third in her historic fourth in 2018. He recently won the Group 2 Feehan Stakes and was placed behind Russian Camelot in the Underwood Stakes and ran third in the Caulfield Stakes. He loves Moonee Valley and could well spring a surprise like Fields of Omagh did in 2006.
As for Grandslam, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that he could win as Shamus Award did in 2013.
Whatever the outcome, it will be as usual fascinating to watch.
Tonight is the Group 1 Manikato Stakes where a field of 11 will be vying for Group 1 glory in the historic sprint. Top chances are Trekking, Dirty Work, Pippie and Diamond Effort.
Oh, and it’s AFL Grand Final day on Saturday, though it is being played at night so as not to clash with the Cox Plate, and in Brisbane at the Gabba.