Gai Waterhouse couldn’t be happier with her trio of chances in Saturday’s Cox Plate 2012 after this morning’s barrier draw, the race’s hot favourite Pierro coming up with gate seven.
Autumn 2YO triple crown champ Pierro suffered his first career loss in nine starts when the Lonhro colt was defeated a half-length by All Too Hard in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 13.
On Saturday they will look to turn the tables when the two three-year-olds’ take on the older horses under weight-for-age conditions in the coveted $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Melbourne’s Moonee Valley Racecourse.
While the record of three-year-olds in the Cox Plate leaves a lot to be desired, just four of the 62 that have tried winning the classic, Pierro remains the $4 Cox Plate betting favourite at bookmaker.com.au.
Their cause was aided on Tuesday morning when Waterhouse selected barrier seven for the $3.3 million earner, a gate that has produced more Cox Plate winners than any other.
Waterhouse agrees with the bookies 100 percent and believes Pierro is still the horse to beat in the Cox Plate with the distance and track to suit them better than the Caulfield mile.
“He’s a really outstanding horse, I don’t think he lost one admirer the other day in the Guineas,” she said.
“I think the distance will suit him better and I think the way the race is will suit him.”
Pierro’s owner Greg Kilovos also believes there will be improvement after their tough run in the Guineas and said they were backing the horse up because they believed they were in top form and could handle the Cox Plate pressure fourth-up.
“We don’t just lightly put the horse into a Cox Plate if you don’t think he’s there and he’s going to run the race of his life,” Kolivos said.
“Perhaps it’s a gutting run (in the Caulfield Guineas), but the other way is perhaps it’s brought him on and he’ll be at his absolute peak fourth-up.
“We had a good chat about that a few days after the race, as we know he’s a very valuable horse.
“The verdict is he’s there, he’s going to run the race of his life and from our point of view nothing’s changed.
Waterhouse will actually saddle-up three Cox Plate chances this year, her other hopefuls being fellow three-year-old Proisir in gate 10 and champion mare More Joyous in gate 11 who pay $10 and $13 respectively in the Cox Plate odds.
“They are 110 per cent fit and I’ve just got the job to make sure they stay sound and happy,” Waterhouse said of her 2012 Cox Plate trio.
Like their star stablemate Pierro, Choisir colt Proisir suffered their first defeat last time out when going down just a long neck to Victoria Derby favourite It’s A Dundeel in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick at the start of the month.
And, as with Pierro, Waterhouse is full of praise for the young up-and-comer.
“This is his first preparation,” she said.
“You tell me any horse in Australia that’s got to weight-for-age, the leading weight-for-age race in Australia, in one prep.
“It’s unheard of.”
Waterhouse’s decision to select last year’s winning Cox Plate barrier 11 for More Joyous when given the pick of the gates surprised many, but the Hall of Fame trainer said that starting worse than mid-field would give the eight-time Group 1 champ the room she needed.
“It’ll be very much a tactical race and I suppose I didn’t want her getting too cluttered up because there are a few squeeze barriers there,” Waterhouse said.
She refused to pick her favourite however, rating all three a genuine shot of becoming this year’s Cox Plate winner.
“I’m their trainer … I’m mother,” she said.
“I want them going into the race with a lovely disposition, and they’ve all got that.
“We certainly could run the trifecta.
“I’ve done it before in big races.”
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