Gai Waterhouse already has one guaranteed starter for the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley Racecourse this Saturday, but the trainer is hoping to make a dual attack on the $3 million feature race with another.
Group 1 J.J. Atkins (1600m) and Group 2 Bill Stutt Stakes (1600m) winner Almalad is assured of a start but Waterhouse believes stablemate Wandjina is deserving of a shot at the Group One race too.
“He (Wandjina) has got to get in,” Waterhouse told TVN.
“The owners have paid the late-entry fee — $130,000 — and if he gets in he’ll give everyone a real surprise.”
The three-year-old colt has just one win to his name, the Australian Turf Club (1000m) sprint back in February but finished well last time out in the Group 1 BECK Caulfield Guineas (1600m), taking out third and showing he can keep up with the big boys.
Waterhouse is convinced his form alone deserves him a place in the Cox Plate field alongside Almalad, which will be drawn Tuesday morning.
“Look at last year. Shamus Award was a maiden. The form of Wandjina has been outstanding,” she said.
“He is not a blow-in. He ran third in the (Caulfield) Guineas and he should be there. He’s as tough as teak, he ran three weeks in a row.
“I’m really surprised how well Wandjina came out of the Guineas, he just copped it on the chin.
“And I can’t fault [Almalad]. What’s he done wrong? Nothing, he went mad on him that day in the Guineas.
“Almalad is such a consistent horse. I worked the pair of them yesterday and I could not be happier with how they worked.”
Both horses will gallop at Tuesday’s Breakfast with the Best ahead of the 2014 Cox Plate final field & barrier draw.
Almalad is currently paying $41 in the Cox Plate odds at Ladbrokes.com.au while Wandjina is paying $51.
Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) winner Fawkner leads the betting at $4 followed by Irish import Adelaide – the only horse invited to start in the Cox Plate – at $5.50.
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