Smart Irish galloper Arod is still tracking towards a 2015 Cox Plate appearance at Moonee Valley in Victoria this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival after running a brave second in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood this week.
The Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes (1600m) was won by the 2/5 favourite Solow who had a half-length to spare over Peter Chapple-Hyam’s runner-up Arod (6/1), a gallant challenger in the closing stages.
Jockey Andrea Atzeni had Arod out and leading soon after the jump but he was headed inside the final furlong before running on to hold for second two lengths in front of 50/1 roughie Gabrial in third.
“He just needs the ground faster. Andrea said it just blunted his speed,” Chapple-Hyam told the media post-race on Wednesday.
The Sussex Stakes second followed the Teofilo four-year-old’s good win in the Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes (1600m) at Ascot a fortnight earlier.
Arod is one of the international invitees by the Moonee Valley Racing Club (MVRC) to contest Australasia’s weight-for-age championship, the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) on October 24.
Sussex Stakes winner Solow, from the stables of retired champion jockey turned trainer Freddy Head, is also a Cox Plate invitee and has now won his past eight straight races including four Group 1 features.
Connections are likely to opt for a run in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (1609m) at Ascot on British Champions Day in October over a trip to Australia for the Cox Plate clash.
Cox Plate nominations close next Tuesday, August 4, but the early odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have Arod listed as an $11 shot.
Owner Sheikh Fahad won the 2011 Melbourne Cup with French raider Duanden and also ran Side Glance in two editions of the Cox Plate, and is very keen to give Arod the chance to salute down under this spring.
“As for the rest of the season, he’s not guaranteed to get his ground on Champions Day in the QEII and as the Breeders’ Cup is at Keeneland this year, that might be a bit tight for him, as he has a big stride,” Chapple-Hyam explained.
“The Woodbine Mile in Canada could be an option. The Cox Plate could be the one, though. Sheikh Fahad has always wanted to win it and so have I, ever since I worked in Australia.”
The Grade 1 Woodbine Mile (1600m) takes place in Toronto in mid-September and is a qualifying race for the Breeders Cup Turf Mile.
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