After earlier indications that Gai Waterhouse’s glamour mare More Joyous would be given a second shot at winning Australasia’s richest weight-for-age showdown, the Cox Plate 2011, owner John Singleton has had a change of heart.
The recently crowned NSW Horse of the Year, More Joyous is again being considered for the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22 despite connections admitting she is a little bit behind the eight-ball in terms of her spring preparation.
With many punters already having jumped on the futures Cox Plate odds at Luxbet on More Joyous, the confirmation that she could now be back in contention will come as welcome news to many.
The now five-year-old daughter of More Than Ready is yet to resume racing since pulling up lame after her disappointing 11th place finish to Sacred Choice in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick in mid-April.
Prior to injuring a tendon in the Doncaster, due to the Heavy track conditions according to Singleton, More Joyous enjoyed one of the most impressive string of race performances seen by any mare seen in Australia.
From September 2009 through until the Doncaster this year, More Joyous started 13 times and was beaten just once, when she ran a credible fifth behind superstar So You Think in last year’s Cox Plate.
“The tactics in the Cox Plate were wrong,” Singleton said on reflection.
“We thought we would turn her on before the bend, put a space on that thing, So You Think.”
Over that time More Joyous became a five-time Group 1 champion with victories in the 2009 Flight Stakes, 2010 George Main Stakes, 2010 Toorak Handicap (setting a weight-carrying record), 2011 Futurity Stakes and 2011 Queen Of the Turf Stakes.
Last week Waterhouse said More Joyous was working well towards her first-up run, which would likely be the $500,000 Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at the Valley on September 30, but that the Cox Plate was “not on the agenda.”
Now, it looks more and more likely that Waterhouse will indeed give More Joyous a chance to improve on her Cox Plate result from last year’s Melbourne Spring Carnival.
Discussions are taking place this week between Waterhouse, More Joyous’ regular rider Nash Rawiller, racing manager Duncan Grimley and Singleton’s chief veterinarian John Peatfield as to whether the Cox Plate 2011 was a viable option for the $2.22 million earner.
“If the four geniuses advise the sucker owner to go that way, she will,” Singleton said.
“If it is two-all, I might have to cast the deciding vote.”
It would seem that even without a unanimous decision by his quartet of racing experts, Singleton was favouring a start in the Cox Plate over the mare’s other spring option, the Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day.
“Prize money for the Myer Stakes is $500,000, the Cox Plate $3 million,” Singleton said simply, adding, “Do not back her until the four geniuses meet tomorrow (Thursday).”
Singleton has been blown away by just how much progress More Joyous has made since her autumn injury, which he feared may have completely ruled her out of contention or the spring.
“She was only a 10 per cent chance of racing in the spring, the tendon was that bad,” he said.
“She was boxed at my property for six weeks, boxed in a tiny yard for six weeks.
“She went to Gai with a light, three-race preparation in mind.”
More Joyous’ original spring schedule is now being totally reconsidered, the horse showing Singleton and Peatfield she was much fitter than he originally thought she would be at this stage in her prep.
“She trialled superbly at Randwick last Friday,” Singleton said.
“Gai, Nash and John Peatfield are very happy.
“He (Peatfield) is now saying she is 100 per cent and there is more chance now of her racing in the spring than next year when she’ll be a six-year-old.”
Although the Cox Plate is a wonderful dream to have, Singleton was quick to admit that having already achieved so much success with More Joyous, getting to the $3 million feature was not the be all and end all and that looking after the horse was the No. 1 priority.
“If we can include another Cox Plate this spring without hurting her, good, if not good, she can have a light spring,” he said.
If the Cox Plate run does eventuate, Singleton is tipping the race to be a two-horse affair between his mare and the ante-post favourite, Mark Kavanagh’s six-year-old Whobegotyou.
“On exposed form, forget the three-year-olds; we don’t know how they’ve come back from their two-year-old season,” he said.
“The Cox Plate is a two-horse race, Whobegotyou and More Joyous.”
Whobegotyou currently sits at the top of the Cox Plate odds at Luxbet as the sole single-figure contender paying $7.00 after his first-up win in the Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 13.
More Joyous is better in the odds at $31.