Mark Kavanagh has warned that he will scratch star mare and hot favourite Atlantic Jewel from Saturday’s Cox Plate 2013 if track conditions at Moonee Valley do not suit.
The four-time Group 1 winning daughter of Fastnet Rock is the clear punters’ pick at $2.30 in futures betting to win the $3 million Group 1 WS Cox Plate (2040m) on the weekend.
She earned top spot in the pre-field markets for Australasia’s weight-for-age championship after her emphatic four length romp in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on October 12.
That run proved she could see out a strong 2000m, making her twice unbeaten over the distance following an equally impressive seven length Group 2 Wakeful Stakes success in October 2011.
It also impressed jockey Michael Rodd and saw her atone for her last start loss.
Atlantic Jewel was defeated a nose by Kiwi galloper It’s A Dundeel in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 21, her only loss in 11 starts to date.
Kavangah is convinced the only thing that got her beaten that day was the Slow (6) track, and will not risk running her on anything in the Slow – Heavy range again.
That could be a problem on the weekend however as there is rain predicted in Melbourne this week in the lead-up to Cox Plate Day.
Wet weather, plus the fact the Cox Plate (Race 10 of 10) will be the 18th race run at the Moonee Valley track within 24 hours over the two-meeting Cox Plate Carnival, could see a choppy and unsuitable surface for the mighty mare.
“I am saying that if the track conditions don’t suit, she will not be running,” Kavanagh told the Herald Sun.
“She ran on a slow (track) in the Underwood and she went no good.
“She won’t run if I’m not happy with the condition of the track.”
Equal second favourites in the Cox Plate betting markets at $5 are then the Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente and Underwood Stakes winner It’s A Dundeel.
Top fancy for the Melbourne Cup over the two miles at Flemington next month having run second in the ‘race that stops a nation’ in their Australian debut last November, the imported Fiorente was last seen running a good fourth to reigning Emirates Stakes champ Happy Trails in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) on October 5.
Murray Baker’s High Chaparral four-year-old It’s A Dundeel meanwhile hasn’t raced since their fifth Group 1 success in the Underwood.
They missed a rematch with Atlantic Jewel in the Caulfield Stakes due to a hoof abscess but should be right for the Cox Plate this weekend, something rival trainer Waterhouse is very worried about.
“This Cox Plate is not just between the mare, Atlantic Jewel, and Fiorente,” Waterhouse said.
“I think the one to beat is Murray Baker’s horse, It’s A Dundeel. He is the unsung hero of the race.
“Of course, Atlantic Jewel will be hard to beat, but It’s A Dundeel looks sensational. There is no horse at Flemington that looks better.
“He has turned the corner. You don’t want to be running against him.’’
The official 2013 Cox Plate field is due out on Tuesday morning and will be published right here at Races.com.au.
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