There’s only a few minutes between now and jump time for this afternoon’s Cox Plate 2014 at 5:40pm (AEDT) at Moonee Valley Racecourse so what’s the last word on the 14 horses batting to be crowned Australasia’s Weight-For-Age Champion?
#1 Sacred Falls (9)$9.50
Triple Group 1 winner over 1600m in Sydney including two Doncasters. Can extend that brilliance to the Cox Plate distance based on his hard hitting Caulfield Stakes effort when fourth to Fawkner. Coming home late – be on it.
#2 Fawkner (4)$4.60
Race favourite won the Caulfield Cup last year and has been on the Cox Plate path for a year. Out to be just the third favourite in the past decade to win and break owner Lloyd Williams’ duck in this race. Definite chance but more value elsewhere.
#3 Side Glance (7)$26
Won the Mackinnon Stakes here last year and is back down under, this international hope will be up on the pace along with The Cleaner so won’t be a walking pace. Third in the Caulfield Stakes and the odds are pretty juicy to finish in the money again here.
#4 Happy Trails (2)$12
Runner-up in the Cox Plate last year narrowly held out by the three-year-old, out to atone and has had an extra run this time in. Fifth in the Caulfield Stakes last time out and finishing fast. Trainer is happy and wouldn’t write off.
#5 Foreteller (1)$34
Longest priced of Chris Waller’s three in the race and is way too long for his form. Won the Underwood two back and was honest when mid-field in the Caulfield Stakes. Gets the inside run here and so at that price is worth looking at for the exotics.
#6 The Cleaner (14)$14
Out to complete a fairytale spring in Melbourne this Tassie galloper has the support of plenty and a brilliant record at the track (6-4-1-1) to boot. Four straight here at the Valley, all wins, including the Dato and JRA Plate last start over the 2040m. Up front but can he go all-the-way?
#7 Guest Of Honour (10)$101
On the drift big time this raider looks a bit out of his depth. Ran in the Toorak Handicap for a mid-field finish that he’ll be needing to improve on. Not sure if he’ll go the distance, awkward draw and should run where the odds suggest.
#8 Criterion (6)$6
Lots of money coming for David Payne’s Sebring four-year-old. Won the Rosehill Guineas – ATC Derby last season and has been in top form again this time in with a Hill Stakes second to subsequent The Metropolitan winner Junoob before being second behind Fawkner in the Caulfield Stakes. Hitting his peak and wouldn’t be a surprise Cox Plate winner.
#9 Silent Achiever (11)$21
One of the forgotten horses in the Cox Plate field this four-time Group 1 winning New Zealand mare has class but has been pretty disappointing this time in. Was the autumn’s WFA champion in Sydney but failed to hit that form again here. Nash Rawiller comes back on, won the Crystal Mile last Cox Plate Day so Moonee Valley could be the key.
#10 Royal Descent (3)$11
Another of Waller’s hopes this perennial runner-up has had four runs, all at Randwick and finished second best every time in a frustrating run for connections. She’s honest and the Epsom form, which she comes off a second (surprise!) in held up earlier today with third placegetter Hooked winning the Crystal Mile.
#11 Adelaide (13)$8.50
The horse to bring Aidan O’Brien back to the country is an unknown factor here. Coolmore-owned four-year-old won at elite level in the USA two back and was probably saved from a gutbuster last start witht his trip coming.
#12 Almalad (8)$31
One of two in the mix for Gai Waterhouse. Won the JJ Atkins as a juvenile and a three-year-old won it last year but his three-year-old form hasn’t been quite as good. Did enjoy the track winning the Stutt Stakes two back and there were excuses in the Guineas.
#13 Sweynesse (12)
Best backed of the youngsters in this year’s Cox Plate. Super consistent Sydney form coming into this and the Spring Champion third was his only defeat when ridden up on the pace. Should settle back and be ridden more quietly and can run top three with luck.
#14 Wandjina (5)$31
Questions over whether he deserved the final spot but ran third in the Caulfield Guineas as Shamus Award did last year and connections were confident enough to fork out the hefty late entry fee. Could surprise for sure.
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*All odds are Fixed Win from Ladbrokes.com.au and subject to change