Godolphin private trainer John O’Shea has his 2014 Cox Plate hope Sweynesse as good as he can get him ahead of the three-year-old’s acid test in the 2040m classic at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
There has been a rush of money for the Lonhro colt to go back-to-back for the three-year-olds following the win of Shamus Award last year in the weight-for-age $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate.
A trio of that age group line-up in this year’s capacity 14 starter field with the in-form Sweynesse joined by the Gai Waterhouse-trained stable mates Wandjina and Almalad who ran third and eighth respectively in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) last time out.
All three opened as $34 outsiders in the Cox Plate odds at Ladbrokes.com.au earlier in the week.
Wandjina, who isn’t being tipped to handle the extra metres on the weekend, has remained at that price while Waterhouse’s Group 1 JJ Atkins winner Almalad has firmed into $31.
It is Sweynesse however who has really caught the attention of the punters and has been smashed into $16 in the latest Cox Plate betting markets.
The punters’ reaction reflects the high opinion O’Shea has of his up-and-comer who he rates as a genuine hope in the capacity Cox Plate field.
“I can’t have the horse any better,” O’Shea’s told the Racing Network on Friday.
“He’s at his very best and we’re hoping he’s highly competitive tomorrow.”
A winner of four of his five starts to date, Sweynesse’s only defeat was a third behind now favourite for Saturday week’s $1.5 million Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) Hampton Court in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on October 11.
Before that he won back-to-back Group 3 races over 1600m and 1800m respectively, and on Saturday debuts in Victoria.
Racing outside of Sydney for the first time the Cox Plate will be Sweynesse’s second run over the distance and he should be able to improve having raced over the 2000m in the Spring Champion at the start of the month.
Originally punters were wary of backing the young gun when he drew wide in barrier 12 for the Cox Plate.
He hasn’t started from wider than seven this time in, but O’Shea said that with his get back style the barrier was inconsequential.
“He was only ever going to be ridden one way and that’s cold out the back, so the barrier is of no consequence,” he said.
Last year’s Cox Plate winning hoop Chad Schofield has the ride on Sweynesse on Saturday shooting for back-to-back wins.
It will be Schofield’s first ride on the galloper who has been ridden previously by Jeff Penza for his win on debut at Kembla Grange in May, Kerrin McEvoy for his three opening wins this time in and most recently Blake Shinn in the Spring Champion Stakes.
This year’s Cox Plate favourite meanwhile is the Robert Hickmott-trained Fawkner who has been gearing up for this assignment since winning the Caulfield Cup last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
The Reset seven-year-old represents Macedon Lodge, owner Lloyd Williams after his first Cox Plate win after a number of close calls over the years, but is on the drift out from $4 to $4.60 to become just the third favourite in 11 years to win.
Head to Ladbrokes.com.au now to access the full Cox Plate betting markets and be rewarded with a bonus bet on the house valued up to a generous $500 this spring only!