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Peter Snowden’s exciting Caulfield Guineas winner Helmet is officially the sole three-year-old entered for the 2011 Cox Plate on Saturday week after connections have sent Guineas failure Smart Missile to the paddock for a spell ahead of the autumn.
The Anthony Cummings-trained Fastnet Rock colt Smart Missile won the Group 3 Run To The Rose (1200m) in their three-year-old debut back in March, but has failed to enter the winners’ stall since.
After running an unlucky second to Manawanui in the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m), they were found out when an awkward gate 17 of 17 draw saw them caught in traffic and eventually run 10th to Toorak Toff in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m).
Last Saturday Smart Missile proved they were a sprinter only and unsuited to more distance when they ran fifth, beaten five lengths no excuses by Helmet in the Caulfield Guineas over the mile.
With the Victoria Derby then firmly out of the question, the Melbourne Cup Carnival’s feature three-year-olds’ classic run over 2500 metres on the last Saturday of the month, and spruik colt Sepoy all but unbeatable in the only other spring major for the three-year-olds, the Coolmore Stud Classic (1200m) also on Victoria Derby Day, Smart Missile will enjoy a break before being bought back for the autumn sprints next season.
Cummings is expected to target the $750,000 Group 1 Lighting Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on February 18 and the $1 million Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) on March 10 with Smart Missile during the 2012 Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival, Black Caviar the reigning champion in both features.
Smart Missile was one of only two three-year-olds along with Helmet still entered for the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22, and was rated a $21 chance in the 2011 Cox Plate odds at Luxbet.
Helmet leads Cox Plate betting at a quote of $3.50 followed by in-form Kiwi Jimmy Choux paying $4.40 through Luxbet.
The John Bary-trained four-year-old Thorn Park stallion Jimmy Choux, who comes to the Melbourne Spring Carnival having won back-to-back Group 1’s at home in NZ, arrived down under over the weekend and looked impressive in their first gallop at Moonee Valley this morning.
“He looked very comfortable,” Bary said of Jimmy Choux at the notoriously tight Moonee Valley track.
Snowden chose not to run Helmet at the Valley this morning in their scheduled hit-out, opting for a run on Thursday instead.
Rival Sydney-based trainer Gai Waterhouse, who will be represented by last year’s Caulfield Cup winner Descarado in the weight-for-age showdown, named Helmet as the horse to beat in the Cox Plate.
“Helmet is the one we all have to beat with his light weight (49.5kg),” she said.
“A run like the Guineas won’t flatten him because Peter would have him very fit.
“Red Anchor is the last horse to win the Guineas and Cox Plate double (back in 1984) and Helmet looks like he’s as good as him.”
High Chaparral five-year-old Descarado improved their Cox Plate credentials last Saturday winning the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) in an upset and sit as a $15 chance in the Luxbet markets.
While Waterhouse and the bookies have Helmet as the Cox Plate contender to beat, history suggests the son of Exceed And Excel faces a tough test.
Of the last nine Caulfield Guineas winners to go onto the Cox Plate, all have finished out of the money.
While Helmet is the last official three-year-old standing in the Cox Plate entries, racetrack whispers are that Mark Kavanagh’s unbeaten filly Atlantic Jewel may be an eleventh hour entry at a hefty cost of $130,000 for connections should she win the $500,000 Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield Racecourse tomorrow.
With $300,000 in prize money going to the Thousand Guineas winner, the late entry cost to get Atlantic Jewel to the Cox Plate 2011 would be more than covered should she salute for the punters on Wednesday.
Drawn ideally in gate three of 12, Atlantic Jewel is the odds-on $1.50 Thousand Guineas favourite at Luxbet and is out to become the sixth favourite in nine years to take out the classic.
To view the full 2011 Thousand Guineas odds ahead of tomorrow’s race and to access the generous futures prices for the Cox Plate, visit our preferred online bookmaker Luxbet.
Only at Luxbet do first time customers get a $500 bonus bet when making their first deposit and quoting the codeword BONUSBET, and only at Luxbet do punters get a $250 Refund Bonus Bet if their horse runs second in a Group 1 this spring carnival!
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