Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
Mark Kavanagh’s ultra consistent galloper Whobegotyou was one of the stars among the 2011 Cox Plate nominations yesterday, the son of Street Cry set to return to Moonee Valley this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival to have a third crack at the $3 million weight-for-age feature with or without the acceptance of dual defending champion So You Think.
A two-time Group 1 winner Whobegotyou, ran in their first Cox Plate back in 2009 when sixth to the then Bart Cummings-trained So You Think before they stepped up again last year, this time coming within one and a half lengths of the star in finishing third.
“Last year’s Cox Plate run was probably the best of his career,” Kavanagh said.
Boasting no less than six Group 1 minor placings, Whobegotyou has also saluted in two elite levels with victories in the 2009 Yalumba Stakes and 2008 Caulfield Guineas.
He also remains unbeaten with five wins at Moonee Valley, save for their Cox Plate defeats.
After their Cox Plate third last spring, Whobegotyou was bought back in the autumn where they ran second to Gai Waterhouse’s glamour mare More Joyous in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield and then won the Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1600m) at their most recent run at Flemington on March 12.
Kavanagh is confident they are close to having their first run this prep having scheduled a barrier trial at Flemington this Friday, and that Whobegotyou will be the horse to beat in the 2011 Cox Plate field.
“He loves Moonee Valley and it’s logical to set him for another go at the Cox Plate this spring,” Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Kavanagh said.
“He’s probably two or three weeks away from a first-up run, but the jumpout will tell me more.”
Although confident, Kavanagh was also realistic when talking of Whobegotyou’s chances of Cox Plate glory.
“He’s won over 2040 metres at the Valley (in the Group 2 AAMI Vase in October 2008) and run second over 2500 metres (in the Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby in November 2008), but his absolutely ideal race would be a Group 1 weight-for-age mile…sadly there aren’t any of them in the spring,” he said.
There were 189 early entries at Cox Plate 2011 nomination stage yesterday, So You Think topping the list and also topping the futures Cox Plate odds at a quote of $7 to become just the second triple Cox Plate winner along with the mighty Kingston Town.
Whobegotyou occupies the second line of Cox Plate betting at $9, but could firm into favouritism with So You Think an unlikely acceptor.
“I very much doubt he’ll have So You Think to contend with this year, so that’s a plus,” Kavanagh said.
“But it’s still early days and a new star could emerge before then.”
Now racing under the preparation of Ireland’s Aiden O’Brien for Coolmore Stud, So You Think returning down under for this year’s Cox Plate is under consideration by connections but quarantine issues have him under a cloud of doubt.
Earlier this year the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) failed to give clearance to the O’Brien’s Ballydoyle quarantine centre, and with international horses having to spend two months in quarantine before travelling to Australia, time is running out for So You Think.
“Aidan has said he’d definitely come back if the quarantine is right,” Racing Victoria’s international scout Leigh Jordon said.
“Things are progressing in that area, but there are still a few things to be sorted.”
Coolmore and O’Brien are likely to be unfazed if the Cox Plate is taken off the agenda as the famous Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France is another very attractive option for So You Think.
“There are plenty of options for him,” Coolmore Australia Racing Manager Tom Magnier said.
O’Brien also nominated Cape Blanco for the Cox Plate this year, the Galileo four-year-old recently winning the Grade 1 Man O’War Stakes (2120m) in America.
“I’ve been speaking to Adian and he has definitely shown a keenness to return to Melbourne,” Jordon said.
“I would say there’s a big chance one of his runners will come out if the quarantine situation can be sorted out.”
Kavanagh also boasted multiple Cox Plate nominees yesterday, his other headline entry being top import December Draw who is a 2011 Melbourne Cup hopeful.
Five-year-old Medecis gelding December Draw was last seen winning the Banjo Paterson Heat (2000m) at Flemington by an impressive five lengths over subsequent Ipswich Cup winner Gold In Dubai back in May, which was their second win from as many starts in Australia.
December Draw is also set to trial at Flemington this Friday.
“He’s given us a reason to be optimistic,” Kavanagh said.
“But it should be said he’s still not qualified for the (Melbourne) Cup.
“It’s a fair difference from winning races at Flemington in May to doing it in November.”
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