Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller has this week confirmed his ins and outs for the Cox Plate 2015 field in Melbourne on Saturday week, ruling out his star Caulfield Guineas winning colt Press Statement from the classic.
Running at Moonee Valley Racecourse on October 24, this year’s $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) still officially has 36 entries.
The numbers are dwindling down to the capacity 14-starer field for Australasia’s weight-for-age championship, including the confirmed non-acceptance of Waller’s $1.27 million earning Hinchinbrook colt Press Statement.
Waller was never 100% sure about backing the in-form champion up from his Caulfield Guineas victory over the mile on October 10 into the Cox Plate, where he would have been looking to become the second three-year-old in three years to win joining Shamus Award (2013).
Instead of testing the weight-for-age star in the making this Cox Plate, Waller will send Press Statement to the paddock to mature ahead of an autumn return with the 2016 Cox Plate the long range plan.
“I write to advise that Press Statement will not push onto the Cox Plate and will now be spelled,” he confirmed in a press statement.
Whilst we feel the Cox Plate is certainly a race he would be very competitive in, there is no guarantee that running would provide career longevity and therefore he will be sent to the paddock with the intention of being prepared towards the autumn carnival as well as a likely international assignment.
“In only six months since his debut he has captured multiple Group 1 wins highlighted on Saturday with his dominant victory in the Caulfield Guineas and we feel he has justified his position as one of the best colts in the country.”
Waller has saddled-up five previous Cox Plate hopes over the years but is yet to finish first three in the second of the ‘Big 3’ Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival majors.
Even without Press Statement he has an imposing three-horse contingent looking to break his Cox Plate maiden this season led by Kermadec who pays $7 through Ladbrokes.com.au in the latest all-in markets.
A dual Group 1 winner over the mile in Sydney, the four-year-old Teofilo stallion stepped up to 2000m for the first time at Caulfield in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) last weekend and ran a credible fourth beaten only one and a quarter lengths by Criterion.
The David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Sebring stallion Criterion, who was first-up down under on the back of a three-race international campaign following his Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) victory at Randwick in early April, is now the co-$6 Cox Plate favourite with the Aidan O’Brien-trained European Highland Reel.
O’Brien took out last year’s Cox Plate with the then Irish-trained Adelaide (2014), while Criterion looks to become the first Caulfield Stakes – Cox Plate double winner since Ocean Park in 2012.
Waller’s two other Cox Plate chances in 2015 are Winx ($7) and Preferment ($13).
“It is our intention to have three runners entered for the Cox Plate being Winx, Preferment and Kermadec,” Waller said.
“At this stage, Glen Boss will partner Kermadec whilst Hugh Bowman and Blake Shinn have been engaged to ride for the stable in the race. A decision has not been made on which horses they will partner but we will advise via media release once finalised.”
In-form Street Cry mare Winx has won her last four starts including two elite levels with a Queensland Oaks success in Brisbane back in May and her impressive last start victory in the Epsom Handicap over the Randwick mile on October 3.
The last Cox Plate winning mare was Pinker Pinker (2011) who came via a second in the Epsom before her upset as a 25/1 shot, the first of two double figure Cox Plate winners in the past four years along with Shamus Award (2013).
Preferment is also in flying form, the four-year-old son of Zabeel coming off back-to-back wins including the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington with the last Cox Plate winner to have their final run in the Turnbull being El Segundo (6th in 2007).
Check out the early prices on the top 20 in Cox Plate betting below, then visit Ladbrokes.com.au to back your selections at the hottest odds in the country!