Dan Excel Confirmed for 2014 Cox Plate Campaign

Following the Moonee Valley Racing Club (MVRC) sending out its official 2014 Cox Plate international invitations, John Moore’s Hong Kong galloper Dan Excel has been confirmed as heading into quarantine before travelling down under for the spring.

One of the 10 invitees from six different countries for this year’s $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25, six-year-old Shamardal gelding Dan Excel is set to take the MVRC up on their offer to run in Australasia’s weight-for-age championship.

Winner of the Group 1 Singapore Airlines International Cup (2000m) at Kranji on May 18, Aussie hoop Tommy Berry guiding them to their time record win, Dan Excel is set to enter quarantine in Hong Kong this Thursday in preparation of their Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival assault.

They will spend around two weeks in quarantine at home before flying to Sydney to spend more time in Eastern Creek’s quarantine facility.

After that his next stop is a stay at connection’s Sydney farm and then down to Melbourne where they will be based at Rosehill with Gary Moore, Aussie expat John Moore’s brother.

“He’ll kick off training at Rosehill before he gets transferred down here to Melbourne to run in a couple of lead-up races, although the stable haven’t decided which ones they are just yet,” Racing Victoria’s International Recruitment Office Leigh Jordon confirmed to Racing Victoria.

“So him going into quarantine suggests, barring injury in the lead-up, he’s a definite, which is great.

“It’s good to be able to lock one away as early as this.”

Jordon has taken the quarantine entry of Dan Excel as a positive sign for this year’s Cox Plate Carnival and the caliber of contenders the main event will attract in 2014.

Along with Dan Excel invitations were also extended to two other Moore-trained runners.

Singapore Cup third place-getter Military Attack, who won that race the previous year, is also invited as is multiple Group 1 champion Designs On Rome.

The latter, another regular mount of Berry’s including for their Group 1 wins in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, Hong Kong Derby and Hong Kong Classic Cup, though is more likely to head to Dubai next year instead.

Jordon is also confident of luring the William Haggas-trained Mukhadram and five-year-old International Sprint runner-up Smoking Sun from France.

“Smoking Sun is raced by the same owners of Maxius, who was a horse that was a bit of a chance to come last year, so I hold a bit of hope for him,” Jordon said.

“William Haggas came here a couple of years ago in a reconnaissance mission, he stayed a week and went down to quarantine, attended the races and sussed it all out.

“I think he’d been keen to come to Melbourne with the right horse.

“Mukhadram ran second in the Dubai World Cup, he races up on the pace and would be ideal for the Cox Plate, so we’re interested to see how he goes in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot next week.”

Along with the Pascal Bary-trained Smoking Sun the other French-trained horse invited was Corine Barande-Barbe’s six-time Group 1 winner Cirrus des Aigles who took out the Coronation Cup over the weekend.

Another headline Cox Plate invitee is Japanese champion Just A Way with a world rating of 130.

Currently rated the best thoroughbred in the world, over the weekend the $8 million earner won their fourth straight race with a narrow victory over Grand Prix Boss in the Group 1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) at Tokyo.

“There’s been talk of the Arc de Triomphe [at Longchamp on 5 October] for Just A Way, but we’re not totally no chance,” Jordon said.

“We’ll be giving it a red-hot go with him.

“I spoke to the trainer in Hong Kong last year, at Dubai earlier in the year and I saw him when I went to Japan recently and he’s basically not saying yes and not saying no.”

Irish Derby winner Trading Leather from the stables of 72-year-old Jim Bolger in Ireland, Godolphin’s $10 million Dubai World Cup champion African Story and Frankel’s full-brother Noble Mission who broke their Group 1 maiden status with a Tattersalls Gold Cup victory last month are other notable hopes.

Nobel Mission falls into the same camp as Just A Way according to Jordon with connections yet to rule them in or out of Cox Plate contention.

“I’ve been talking to Prince Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager Lord Teddy Grimthorpe and, again, he’s not ruling it in but not ruling it out,” Jordon said.

“When they’re not ruling it out, you remain a chance of enticing them down under.”

Pre-nomination Cox Plate betting markets are currently led by the Gai Waterhouse-trained Carlton House ($9) who was last seen running third to It’s A Dundeel in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick in April.

The shortest priced of the international Cox Plate invitees meanwhile is Moore’s Designs On Rome ($17).

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2014 Cox Plate Invitees

Just A Way (JPN)

Trainer: Naosuke Sugai (Japan)

Military Attack (IRE)

Trainer: John Moore (Hong Kong)

African Story (USA)

Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor A Fabre (UAE)

Designs On Rome (IRE)

Trainer: John Moore (Hong Kong)

Cirrus Des Aigles (FR)

Trainer: Corine Barande-Barbe (France)

Trading Leather (IRE)

Trainer: Jim Bolger (Ireland)

Dan Excel (IRE)

Trainer: John Moore (Hong Kong)

Mukhadram (GB)

Trainer: William Haggas (England)

Noble Mission (GB)

Trainer: Lady Cecil (England)

Smoking Sun (USA)

Trainer: Pascal Barry (France)


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