Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
The weekend’s impressive Caulfield Guineas winner Helmet has been installed as the new 2011 Cox Plate betting favourite at bookmakers around the country, Peter Snowden’s now triple Group 1 hero out to become the first three-year-old Cox Plate winner since So You Think for their first in 2009.
Exceed And Excel colt Helmet emerged as a genuine contender for the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m), Australasia’s richest weight-for-age race to run at Moonee Valley on October 22, with their all-the-way Caulfield Guineas success on Saturday.
After holding off a fast-finishing Manawanui in the $1 million three-year-olds classic, Helmet’s second elite level win over the mile, Snowden is seriously considering giving Helmet their chance against the older horses in the Cox Plate 2011.
Prior to the Caulfield Guineas win, Helmet was rated the $7.50 second elect for the Cox Plate at Luxbet, and has since firmed into clear $3.50 favouritism.
This has pushed former favourite Jimmy Choux onto the second line of Cox Plate betting at Luxbet, the in-form Kiwi at a quote of $4.40.
Darley’s supremo trainer Snowden has named Helmet as a 90% Cox Plate chance, making now the time to back them in the Cox Plate markets at Luxbet before their price firms with the final field announcement next week.
“I have to see what the boys in Dubai say, but form mine he should take his place (in the Cox Plate field),” Snowden said on Saturday.
Helmet, if accepted, will be the sole three-year-old in the Cox Plate field this year with Smart Missile dropping out of contention after their unplaced run in the Caulfield Guineas on the weekend.
Former gun juvenile Smart Missile could only manage to finish seven lengths away fifth to Helmet in the Guineas, proving they are a genuine sprinter and not a miler.
Sure to be back to their imposing best over the shorter distance features, Smart Missile remains an $11 (doubtful) chance in the Cox Plate odds at Luxbet.
Connections of Saturday’s gallant Caulfield Guineas runner-up Manawanui have also confirmed they won’t be tempted by the Cox Plate riches this spring
Trainer of the Golden Rose winner Ron Leemon has said Manawanui is just short of the Cox Plate this year and won’t be paying the hefty $130,000 final late entry fee by next Monday, but will be back targeting the Moonee Valley showcase next year.
Leemon said their decision to bypass the Cox Plate was not because they didn’t think Manawanui could turn the tables on Helmet, but because Manwanaui was a gelding and not a stallion-in-the-making like Helmet their priorities were different.
“That was an epic clash (in the Guineas),” Leemon said.
“It’s one-all now and I’m not ready to concede that he (Helmet) is better than us just yet.
“The Cox Plate could end up another dogfight between them but I’m happy to stay against the three-year-olds for now.
“We are a racing proposition and they are looking a breeding, it makes sense for them to go to the Cox Plate and they’re in it, where we would have to find $130,000.
“When you look at that as a proportion of what our bloke has earned, it’s an easy decision.
“We can come back to the Cox Plate next year and (this year) stay against our own age in the AAMI Vase and then the (Victoria) Derby, which he is still in, if he pulls up all right.
“Who knows, next year Helmet and Sepoy might not be here.”
The $200,000 Moonee Valley (formerly AAMI) Vase (2040m) runs on Cox Plate Day followed by the $1.5 million Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on the first day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, October 29.
Manawanui is the $8 co-second favourite in the Victoria Derby odds at Luxbet with Helmet, markets lead by the Lloyd Williams-owned Collar ($7).
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