Godolphin’s smart Craven Plate winning stallion Complacent is in danger of missing out on a start in Saturday’s capacity 14-starter Cox Plate 2015 field that is finalised on Tuesday morning.
Connections have until 8:30am (AEST) on Tuesday to pay the $27,500 final acceptance fee for this year’s $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) that lights up Moonee Valley Racecourse as one of two elite levels held at the track this weekend along with Friday night’s Manikato Stakes for the sprinters.
Racing Victoria is expecting to receive at least 15 final acceptors, meaning a decision on which horse receives the last spot in the starting line-up will have to be made.
At this stage the battle for final position in the field for Australasia’s weight-for-age championship will come down to the John O’Shea-trained Authorzied five-year-old Complacent and the Gai Waterhouse-trained French import Pornichet. A winner of five of his 10 career starts to date, the lightly-raced Complacent was one of 2013’s ace three-year-olds winning the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) in Sydney before his second to Polanski in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m).
Injury saw him spend a lengthy stint on the sidelines that he only returned from in August this year, his form since his first-up 12th to Royal Descent in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) spot-on.
He won the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) defeating Chris Waller’s subsequent George Main Stakes winner Kermadec in September at Randwick before returning to the track a fortnight later to cross only a length away third to another Waller-trained champ in Preferment in the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m).
Last time out Complacent beat home stablemate Hauraki in a close blanket finish in the Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m) on October 3, meaning he hasn’t had a Melbourne or Group 1 run since the 2013 Victoria Derby.
He was the second emergency for last Saturday’s Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), but failed to gain a start in the mile and a half classic subsequently won by the Murray Baker-trained New Zealander Mongolian Khan.
O’Shea has saddled-up just two Cox Plate starters without success over his career and now faces a nervous wait to see if Complacent will be his third.
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Also after the last spot in this year’s Cox Plate field for Saturday is Waterhouse’s Vespone stallion Pronichet who was dead-last in the Caulfield Stakes last time out and who hasn’t won a race since the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) in Brisbane during the winter.
The decision is now up to senior racing officials and the Moonee Valley Racing Club committee who will look at the form of both horses before making the call.
Peter Gelagotis’s last start Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) winning veteran Mourinho could also miss out on a Cox Plate start again this season, the Moe-based Oratorio eight-year-old balloted out of the classic last year with Wandjina getting the call-up instead.
A winner of two of his three starts this time in including his nose victory over Fawkner in the Underwood on September 26 as a 21/1 outsider, Mourinho is a $26 chance in the current Cox Plate betting markets.
Leading Cox Plate odds at $5.50 are three equal favourites Criterion, the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Sebring stallion coming off a Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) from October 10, Aidan O’Brien’s Irish raider Highland Reel and the Waller-trained mare Winx.
O’Brien won last year’s Cox Plate with Adelaide and so chases back-to-back wins in the Moonee Valley classic, while Epsom Handicap winning Street Cry four-year-old Winx is out to become the first mare to win the race since Pinker Pinker (2011) who ran second in the Epsom in the lead-up.
Five horses are exempt from Cox Plate ballot with Criterion, Dato Tan Chin Nam winner The Cleaner, Arod, Highland Reel and Galio Chop.
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