The headline race at Moonee Valley Racecourse on Saturday is of course the 2014 Cox Plate and it is last season’s ATC Derby winner Criterion who is the notable early market mover for the weight-for-age classic.
Drawn ideally in barrier six with expat Kiwi hoop James McDonald jumping aboard, the David Payne-trained Criterion is one of a capacity 14 starters in this year’s $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) field.
The now four-year-old Sebring stallion was one of the autumn’s star three-year-olds winning the Rosehill Guineas – ATC Derby double in Sydney.
This time in he’s had four runs, the most recent two of which both produced promising second place finishes.
Two back he was runner-up behind the Chris Waller-trained Junoob in the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) at Randwick.
The form of that race was trumped by the winner then with the imported Junoob going on to win the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) back at the track before a brave seventh when only 2.25 lengths off the Japanese-trained Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti in last Saturday’s spring major.
Following the Hill Stakes Criterion travelled to Caulfield and stepped back up to elite level company for the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) where he lost few admirers running second just a long neck off the Robert Hickmott-trained winner Fawkner.
Winner of last year’s Caulfield Cup, Reset seven-year-old Fawkner is now the easing $4.50 (out from $4) favourite to win the Cox Plate through Ladbrokes.com.au and hand his connections at Macedon Lodge with their first victory in Australasia’s weight-for-age championship after two previous Cox Plate seconds.
Criterion meanwhile is now into $7 and occupying the third line of Cox Plate betting.
Originally he opened at $8 before drifting out to $9 with a notable hoodoo to overcome.
He is looking to become the first Australian Derby winner since Bonecrusher (1986) to return the next season and win the Cox Plate.
But the money has been steadily coming in for Criterion to continue the nice run of four-year-olds in the Cox Plate, three winning on the trot from 2010 – 12 before the upset win of three-year-old Shamus Award 12 months ago.
2014 Cox Plate Market Moves
- #2 Fawkner ($4 out to $4.50) – Won the Caulfield Stakes last time out and has a gun barrier four draw but punters are starting to shy away from the seven-year-old looking to become the first of his age since Makbye Diva (2005) to win the Cox Plate.
- #11 Adelaide – (Steady at $6.50) – The best fancied of the three international Cox Plate horses, Aidan O’Brien saddles up this northern-hemisphere three-year-old who won the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes over the distance two back in the USA from a wide barrier (13) draw which is actually a suitable starting position for the galloper according to his trainer who hasn’t had a runner down under since the 2008 Melbourne Cup.
- #8 Criterion ($8 out to $9 into $7) – David Payne-trained market mover.
- #1 Sacred Falls ($6 out to $7.50) – One of three for Sydney’s Chris Waller, a triple Group 1 winner at home over the mile but yet to win over further than 1600m.
While Criterion is the biggest Cox Plate firmer over the week, the big drifter has been Sacred Falls.
Waller’s O’Reilly stallion won the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick two back, his third elite level over the track and distance, before a brave fourth to Fawkner in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) last time out on October 11.
Sacred Falls finished under two and a half lengths off the winner that day but the money has dried up on him to improve on that run and score an upset.
Another notable Cox Plate market mover meanwhile is three-year-old Sweynesse for Godolphin and trainer John O’Shea.
Originally opening at $34 along with the other two three-year-olds in the race this year, the Gai Waterhouse-trained duo of Almalad and Wandjina, Sweynesse is now right into $17.
The Lonhro colt won three on the trot in Sydney this season before a last start third behind current 2014 Victoria Derby favourite Hampton Court in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) on October 11 at Randwick.
He makes his Melbourne debut in the Cox Plate but now as Group 1 form over the distance and a three-year-old ran third in his lead-up run and won this race last year so history could repeat.
See below for the full Cox Plate 2014 odds below, fixed win prices open online now at Ladbrokes.com.au where you’ll find all the weekend’s hottest markets including Best Tote or SP + 20% on the other Melbourne Cup lead-up race, the Moonee Valley Gold Cup!