Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
In-form three-year-old Helmet further staked their 2011 Cox Plate claims on Thursday morning, the colt impressing connections and track spectators with a strong hitout at Moonee Valley – home to the Australasia’s weight-for-age championship.
Last-start winner of the Caulfield Guineas over the mile, which was their third elite level victory, Helmet hit all the right notes and earned comparisons to the former Bart Cummings-trained dual Cox Plate hero So You Thinkwhen working around the Moonee Valley circuit this morning.
The now European-based So You Think, who is due to race in this weekend’s Champion Stakes at Ascot, enjoyed their first of two successive Cox Plate victories as a three-year-old in 2009.
Helmet is now the sole contender for this year’s edition to become the first 3YO Cox Plate winner since, and is the firm $3.40 favourite in the Cox Plate odds at Luxbet to do just that.
A son of Exceed And Excel, Helmet made their Melbourne debut last month when easily running away with the Caulfield Guineas Prelude win at Caulfield.
He then made it two on the trot in last Saturday’s Caulfield Guineas, which was a career best performance and a thrilling battle to the line.
After getting their first look at the tight Moonee Valley course today, Helmet now looks well positioned to make it three straight in Melbourne this spring by winning the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) Saturday week.
Regular rider Kerrin McEvoy was aboard the Cox Plate favourite for their morning Moonee Valley gallop and was quick to rate him as equal to the great three-year-olds to have come before him including So You Think and fellow Cox Plate winning three-year-old Octagonal (1995).
“I think he’s right up there at the top of the list,”McEvoy said.
“He just came out here (to Moonee Valley) to familiarise himself (with the track).
“He took it all in his stride….it was pretty easy work.
“He got around the track on his right leg which is important here at Moonee Valley and he seemed to enjoy it.”
Trainer Peter Snowden and connections were holding off on a firm decision of whether or not to run Helmet in the 2011 Cox Plate field wanting to see how he came through the gruelling Guineas win over Golden Rose champion Manawanui, but McEvoy confirmed the horse was back in terrific form today.
“The vibe I got form him this morning was that he’s got over his Guineas run really well,” McEvoy said.
“It took a personal best from the horse to win the Guineas, but he didn’t feel like a horse that was jaded or has gone over the top.”
Helmet is set to advantage greatly from the weight-for-age conditions of the Cox Plate, meeting all of their rivals far better in the weights on just 49.5kg.
There is still a doubt, however, whether McEvoy will be able to make the weight and continue his successful association with the budding stayer.
“I haven’t got down to that weight for about 10 years,” he admitted.
“It can weaken you when you cut down so much on what you eat, but I’m hoping it will be worth it.
“He’s also got to run the trip out, but that’s up to me to ride him properly on the day.”
Helmet’s biggest perceived threat in the Cox Plate 2011 betting is close $3.80 second-elect, Jimmy Choux.
John Bary’s multiple Group 1 winning Kiwi also got their first look at Moonee Valley earlier this week working well in a gallop.
Jimmy Choux, who has won back-to-back Group Ones in New Zealand this season, will need to be at their best in the Cox Plate as they give a massive eight kilos carrying 57.5kg as a four-year-old stallion to light-weight Helmet.
The 2011 Cox Plate final late entries are open until midday (EDT) on Monday October 17 attracting a fee of $130,000, while the final declarations and field will be released on Tuesday at 8:30am (EDT).
Now is the time to lock in your Cox Plate selections at the best prices before markets firm with the release of the final field.
So, head to Luxbet now and open an account with Australia’s favourite online bookmaker to access the spring carnival odds and remember to quote the unique codeword BONUSBET when making your first deposit to get up to $500 as a bonus bet!
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