Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
There may be a whole lot of hype surrounding the three gun three-year-olds in this Saturday’s Cox Plate 2012 but experienced hoop Glen Boss believes it will be the older horses that pose the biggest threat to his mount Ocean Park in the Moonee Valley classic.
A full field of 14 hopefuls will line up in Moonee Valley Race 8 on Saturday, this year’s $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) shaping up as one of the most intriguing editions of the weight-for-age feature in many years.
For one the Cox Plate odds at bookmaker.com.au are led by a three-year-old with the Gai Waterhouse-trained Pierro paying $4 to become the third 3YO in the past decade to win the race joining Savabeel (2004) and So You Think (2009).
And looking at the Cox Plate betting markets two of the autumn 2YO triple crown winner’s biggest threats are fellow three-year-olds All Too Hard ($4) who beat them home in a sensational Caulfield Guineas upset last start, and Waterhouse’s beaten Spring Champion Stakes favourite Proisir ($9).
Boss, who has ridden two Cox Plate winners with Makybe Diva (2005) and So You Think (2009), is yet to be convinced.
While they may get the weight relief carrying just 49.5kg the form surrounding the three-year-olds in the Cox Plate is a little sketchy.
Boss then is more than happy to be aboard Gary Hennessy’s piping hot Kiwi raider Ocean Park ($5.50) who occupies the third line of Cox Plate betting splitting Pierro and Turnbull Stakes winner Green Moon ($4.60).
“He’s the right horse for the race,” Boss said.
“He’s a weight-for-age horse and he’s doing everything he has to do with three pretty good wins this preparation.
“You can’t fault him or knock him in any way. He can sprint off the mark, he can sustain runs, the distance is not a problem, he’s got good fitness levels now, and to the eye he just looks fantastic.”
Of all the age groups it is four-year-olds that boast the best record in the Cox Plate with 26 wins over the years, making this four-year-old son of Thorn Park a good thing in that regard too.
There is a few hoodoos Ocean Park must overcome if they are to secure the Crown Oaks trophy however.
Winner of the Group 1 Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Hastings back in NZ first-up this season, Ocean Park made it three elite levels on the trot when they travelled down under and completed the Underwood Stakes – Caulfield Stakes double.
While the Underwood – Cox Plate double has been completed on 15 occasions in the past, and the Underwood – Caulfield Stakes – Cox Plate triple achieved by five greats over the years, no horse in history has won four consecutive Group 1 races including the Cox Plate since Group 1 racing was officially introduced in 1979.
Still Boss remains confident with Ocean Park believing they are the horse to beat after partnering with them in a searching gallop at Moonee Valley on Tuesday morning.
“He’s just perfect for me, nothing has changed with him,” Boss said.
“He worked basically identical to every other gallop I have given him. You just don’t want to see changes in him, and he didn’t change.
“He’s a lazy track worker. He just goes along and does his thing so for me it’s all good.”
But if they were to get beaten Boss said it won’t be by a three-year-old but by one of the more experienced in the field such as Waterhouse’s eight-time Group 1 winning mare More Joyous ($13).
“Green Moon and More Joyous are the two,” Boss said.
“More Joyous will step up again. She needed that run the other day (in the Toorak Handicap).
“She had two soft wins up in Sydney, they were like barrier trials, and then she got down here and had a hard run so she probably needed that. Her and Green Moon are the horses to beat, for sure.”
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