The horse may be yet to race down under and drawn wide for his Australian debut on Saturday but star Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien is confident the notoriously tight Moonee Valley circuit will suit his visitor Adelaide in the Cox Plate 2014.
O’Brien hasn’t saddled-up a horse down under since a disappointing Melbourne Cup bid in 2008, but this weekend breaks the drought with his northern-hemisphere three-year-old Adelaide one of the top fancies at Ladbrokes.com.au for the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m).
Six years ago O’Brien saddled up three horses in the Melbourne Cup field including Septimus, but the Ballydoyle stable mates all finished at the back of the race behind Bart Cummings’ 12th and still most recent Melbourne Cup winner Viewed.
Racing Victoria then called the champion trainer back from the airport for a stewards’ review of his Melbourne Cup horses’ efforts, further souring his last experience in the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
Lots of water has flown under the bridge since then however and now O’Brien believes he has a Cox Plate trophy within reach with the classy Adelaide.
“We are looking forward to the race and it is great to have a runner down there again,” O’Brien told Racing Victoria.
“He has travelled well and it has been a case of so far so good.
“We decided to target the race when Tom (Magnier, at Coolmore) and the lads bought into him, and the lads who went with him on the flight say it went well.”
A capacity field of 14 weight-for-age hopes are engaged in this year’s Cox Plate field with the latest markets at Ladbrokes led by last start Caulfield Stakes winner Fawkner ($4.20).
Galileo stallion Adelaide occupies the third line of betting at $6.50 with the Chris Waller-trained Sacred Falls ($6) the second elect.
Adelaide has drawn the second widest gate out in 13 with top English hoop Ryan Moore maintaining his association after guiding the horse to victory in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes (2000m) at Arlington in the USA in mid-August.
Moore, fresh off a win in the Canadian International last weekend, also rode the horse last start on September 14 at Longchamp in France with the duo running a close third behind Ectot in the Group 2 Prix Niel (2400m).
“Ryan has ridden him on his last couple of starts including when winning the Secretariat and will ride him again,” O’Brien said.
Back down to the 2000m on Saturday, a distance Adelaide has run over three times for two wins and a second, O’Brien is confident he’ll handle his first Australian run no issues and thrive on the tight course at Moonee Valley.
“The mile and a quarter on a tight track will suit him,” the Irish Champion Trainer said.
“He has plenty of speed and fast ground will suit him too.”
This year alone the lightly-raced Adelaide, who has run to three in all seven of his career starts to date, has raced at home in Ireland, England, America and France proving his ability to handle all conditions and courses.
There are two other international raiders in the Cox Plate this year looking to be the first winner of the classic from outside of Australia or New Zealand with Andrew Balding’s veteran UK gelding Side Glance ($31) coming off a third to Saturday’s favourite Fawkner in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) from October 11 and roughie of the race Guest Of Honour ($61) currently prepared by Marco Botti.
As for the futures of Adelaide, O’Brien said there was a chance the race would stay on in Australia.
“It is possible Adelaide will stay in Australia after the race but no decision has been made,” he said.
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