Godolphin’s private trainer John O’Shea this week confirmed plans to target the coveted Cox Plate 2015 at Moonee Valley this October third-up with one of the stable’s top autumn performers Contributer.
Australasia’s weight-for-age championship, the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) is set to run this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival on October 24, and is the major aim for the O’Shea-trained High Chaparral stallion Contributer.
The rising six-year-old has had 14 starts for eight wins and over $1 million in prize money earned so far thanks to his stellar autumn in Sydney when winning all three of his assignments including an elite level double.
After taking out the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) first-up at Randwick in mid-February he raced again at Warwick Farm a fortnight later and broke his Group 1 duck with a half-length win over stablemate Hartnell in the Chipping Norton Stakes over the mile.
He stepped up in distance again last time out on March 21 at Rosehill Gardens for another big win defeating the Japanese raider Tosen Stardom by over a length in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) to finish off his campaign.
Now Contributer is on track for a big Spring return eyeing more Group 1 wins including the Cox Plate that he will tackle third-up.
On his own O’Shea has saddled up just the two Cox Plate contenders over the years without a placing, something he hopes to change in 2015 with Contributer who is already the $8 second pick to win the ‘race where legends are made’ behind Hong Kong’s Able Friend ($7) in the futures markets at Ladbrokes.com.au.
O’Shea nominated the $250,000 Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 5 as the new season starting point for the Cox Plate-bound star.
From there he will have a final Cox Plate lead-up before taking on a field of weight-for-age stars in the classic.
“Last season with Contributer – and we are still learning about him as I’ve only had him for five runs – we found that his third run was quite a nice run,” O’Shea told the Herald Sun this week.
“So consequently we’ll have him go to the Cox Plate third-up.”
Also Cox Plate-bound for O’Shea and Godolphin this coming Spring is the aforementioned Chipping Norton Stakes runner-up to Contributer back in February, Hartnell.
The British-bred Authorized four-year-old backed up from the Chipping Norton run, which was his first start down under, with back-to-back Rosehill wins.
The first was in the Group 3 Sky High Stakes (2000m) before he relished the step up to a mile and a half to take out the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) on March 28 by one and a quarter lengths.
His latest start was a brave effort over the two miles at Royal Randwick on April 11 during The Championships when fourth behind Chris Waller’s upset winner Grand Marshall in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m).
O’Shea has a slightly different path into the Cox Plate mapped out for Hartnell who will continue on from that into the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) for a second shot over the two miles at Flemington on November 3.
Hartnell, who will kick-off in Sydney’s $175,000 Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on the same day the Dato’ runs in Melbourne, currently sits as a $17 second pick in futures Melbourne Cup odds behind Japan’s Fame Game ($13) in the all-in markets at Ladbrokes.
“With Hartnell, he probably just overraced in the Sydney Cup … so 10 days into the Cup from the Cox Plate would take the edge out of him,” O’Shea said.
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