2013 Cox Plate Nominee Sets Winning Example

Progressive four-year-old Knight Exemplar has retained their perfect record for their new trainer Gai Waterhouse at Canterbury on Wednesday winning their first-up assignment ahead of a possible Cox Plate 2013 campaign in Melbourne.

Formerly prepared by fellow Sydney trainer John O’Shea, the Exceed And Excel gelding had form at Group 1 level from last year’s Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival but came to Waterhouse earlier this year as a maiden.

Back in November the promising youngster contested the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) on Victoria Derby Day, coming into that Cup Carnival clash on the back of a devastatingly close second to Jolie Bay in the Group 2 Roman Consul Stakes (1200m) at Randwick.

They were far from disgraced in the big one too finishing only one and a half lengths away fourth to Nechita.

Connections decided to send the then three-year-old to Waterhouse’s Tulloch Lodge stables however after two below par runs this March.

It proved a winning move right away too with Waterhouse able to prepare them for their first victory at Gosford in the mud over 1100m on April 21 with Nash Rawiller in the saddle.

This week they posted another victory this time beating home Kordanoro in a $40,000 handicap over 1100m at Canterbury when ridden by Tommy Berry.

Saluting for the punters as the $1.50 odds-on fancy, Knight Exemplar took control of proceedings when hitting the front half way down the straight.

Their big 59kg weight however saw them lose a lot of their winning margin with just a head left to spare by the time they hit the line.

Still a very promising performance, the win has encouraged Waterhouse and co. that Knight Exemplar may have a bigger win in them heading into this year’s Spring Carnival in Victoria.

“As long as he gets his head in front on the line I don’t care how he does it,” Waterhouse’s stable rep Mark Newnham said after the race according to AAP.

“He’s always had ability and it’s probably just a matter of teaching him to win. He has had two runs for the stable now and won both.”

They were one of the 158 early entries taken for the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) when nominations for the October 26 classic closed this week.

While the Cox Plate is a pipe dream, Newnham admits that they will be taking it one race at a time.

“All those entries have to be in so far out,” Newnham said.

“He does have some form in some good races.”

Futures Cox Plate odds meanwhile have Knight Exemplar as a $101 roughie, the youngster with lots of work to do before the weight-for-age showdown if they are to be considered a legitimate shot at the title.

To help them get into the mix with some lead-up victories, Wednesday’s winning hoop Berry suggested that they could improve with the addition of blinkers to their gear.

“We all know he’s got plenty of ability but he’s still got a few tricks up his sleeve,” Berry said.

“A set of blinkers, I think, will benefit him in the future.”

To follow the progress of Knight Exemplar and the other Cox Plate-bound horses this spring make sure you stay tuned to Races.com.au.

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