Connections of Saturday’s Cox Plate 2014 betting favourite Fawkner have said there will be no excuses if the dual Group 1 winner is beaten this weekend following an ideal barrier four draw.
A full field of 14 faces off in this year’s $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley, the favourite of which through Ladbrokes.com.au and bookies around the country is the Robert Hickmott-trained Fawkner.
Winner of the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) last spring, this year the now seven-year-old Reset gelding will shoot for the other two ‘Big 3’ majors targeting both the Cox Plate and the $6.2 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on the first Tuesday of November.
The Cox Plate – Melbourne Cup double was last achieved by Makybe Diva who was also the last seven-year-old to win the former back in 2005.
The mighty mare was also the last Cox Plate winner to jump from barrier four, an alley that co-owner Nick Williams was absolutely thrilled with this morning.
Fawkner was the second horse to draw a gate and Williams said the whole team was now even more excited over the $4 favourite’s chances after the barriers were revealed.
“He’s in terrific order so we’re just counting down the hours until Saturday and couldn’t be more excited,” Williams told Racing Victoria.
Last time out Fawkner won the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) with Nicholas Hall aboard from the same barrier (4), Hall staying on for Saturday chasing his maiden Cox Plate win.
Pleased with how the horse pulled up after that October 11 victory over fellow Cox Plate hopefuls Criterion (2nd) and Side Glance (3rd), Williams said he had his final piece of serious work on Saturday and impressed again.
“He had his final gallop on Saturday and all reports were it was spot on, he’s been to the Valley plenty of times before so we didn’t feel any need to bring him here this morning (for Moonee Valley’s breakfast with the best).”
Williams and Macedon Lodge are also chasing their first Cox Plate success having come close with Mahogany (1995) and Zipping (2008) both running second in their respective years.
“It’s without question the hardest race to win in Australia,” he said.
“We’ve had some good chances over the years with horses like Mahogany and Zipping, Green Moon started favourite here race two years ago, but I certainly wouldn’t swap Fawkner with the form he’s in.
“He’s a Group 1 winner at his last start over the distance and he’s ticking every box right at this minute.”
The next best in Cox Plate betting following Fawkner are then Irish raider Adelaide ($6) in from $6.50 despite drawing wide in gate 13 for his Australian debut and the Chris Waller-trained Sacred Falls ($6.50) in gate nine shooting for his first win over further than 1600m.
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