Chris Waller’s Epsom Handicap winning mare Winx has a 30-plus years’ hoodoo to overcome after coming up with gate one in the Cox Plate 2015 barrier draw for Saturday’s Moonee Valley classic jumping from the inside alley in the capacity field.
Australasia’s weight-for-age championship, the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) features a full 14 starters with both Gai Waterhouse’s Doomben Cup winning Pornichet and the Godolphin-raced Complacent making the cut despite a nervous wait earlier in the week.
The John O’Shea-trained Complacent comes off a win in the Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m) and will have his first start in Melbourne this weekend from barrier six since his second in the 2013 Victoria Derby.
O’Shea is also represented in this year’s Cox Plate field by the autumn’s Group 1 The BMW (2400m) winner Hartnell whose last start was a sixth behind Preferment in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington at the start of the month.
Turnbull Stakes winner Preferment is also in the Cox Plate mix this season, Waller’s in-form Zabeel four-year-old shooting for his third win on the trot.
He has a gun record over Saturday’s distance with two wins and a second from three previous 2000m runs, but hasn’t raced in Melbourne since November last year when winning the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m).
Preferment is drawn in barrier nine for Saturday and is one of three in the line-up for Waller, who chases his maiden Cox Plate trophy, along with the aforementioned rails-drawn Winx and dual Group 1 winner over the Randwick mile Kermadec.
Brad Rawiller takes over for the suspended Blake Shinn aboard Preferment while Hugh Bowman has opted to ride Winx, shooting to become the first Cox Plate winner to come out of the Epsom Handicap in Sydney since Pinker Pinker (2nd in 2011).
Winx has work to do however with barrier one not producing a Cox Plate winner in over 30 years.
Triple Cox Plate winning hoop Glen Boss, whose latest win was aboard New Zealand visitor Ocean Park in 2012, rides Waller’s third hopeful Kermadec from barrier 10, which hasn’t produced a Cox Plate winner since the mighty Bonecrusher back in 1986.
Leading the Cox Plate odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, who are offering Best Tote or SP + 20% on the classic this weekend, is the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Criterion.
The five-year-old Sebring stallion enjoyed a first-up victory in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) back on October 10 following a three-run stint overseas.
He has a good record over 2000m then with three wins, three seconds and two thirds from 11 runs but has had just the one previous unplaced start at Moonee Valley.
The last Cox Plate favourite to salute for the punters was So You Think (1/2F) for his second in 2010, Criterion out to be the next from barrier seven on Saturday.
Three Cox Plate champions in the past 10 years jumped from barrier seven, the most recent being the Boss-ridden So You Think for his first in 2009; the others were Fields Of Omagh (2006) and El Segundo (2007).
Equal at the top of the Cox Plate betting markets with Criterion in the pre-field markets has been Irish raider Highland Reel prepared by last year’s winning trainer Aidan O’Brien who won with Adelaide 12 months ago.
Highland Reel is one of the big winners coming out of the Cox Plate barrier draw set to jump from gate four, which Boss rode his first winner from guiding champion mare Makybe Diva to victory back in 2005.
Galileo stallion Highland Reel won the Group 1 Secretariat Stakes (2012m) in the USA back in mid-August and was last seen running fifth to Golden Horn in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes (2012m).
A total of three internationals invited by the Moonee Valley Racing Club (MVRC) take on the locals in this weekend’s Cox Plate with Highland Reel joined in the field by the Peter Chapple-Hyam-trained Arod in barrier five and distance specialist (6-4-0-0) Gailo Chop prepared by French horseman Antoine de Watrigant.
See below for the full Cox Plate 2015 field, barriers and jockeys then head to Ladbrokes.com.au to open an account with the bookie offering Best Tote or SP + 20% on the full 10-race Moonee Valley card this Saturday!
2015 Cox Plate Final Field & Barrier Draw
Moonee Valley Race 6 – 24/10/2015
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||3x32135x61||CRITERION (NZ)||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Michael Walker||7||59kg||120|
|2||7x2120x126||FAWKNER||Robert Hickmott||Damien Oliver||14||59kg||118|
|3||2307×60502||HAPPY TRAILS||Paul Beshara||Mark Zahra||13||59kg||117|
|4||67x2114x46||HARTNELL (GB)||John O’Shea||TBA||3||59kg||117|
|5||7x1310x161||MOURINHO||Peter Gelagotis||Vlad Duric||12||59kg||116|
|6||39x245x213||THE CLEANER||Mick Burles||Noel Callow||2||59kg||115|
|7||51511×2638||PORNICHET (FR)||Gai Waterhouse||Kerrin McEvoy||11||59kg||116|
|8||415x23112x||AROD (IRE)||Peter Chapple-Hyam||Craig Williams||5||59kg||118|
|10||11x41x28x1||GAILO CHOP (FR)||Antoine de Watrigant||Brad Rawiller||8||59kg||118|
|11||43431×5214||KERMADEC (NZ)||Chris Waller||Glen Boss||10||57.5kg||118|
|12||1x0628x011||PREFERMENT (NZ)||Chris Waller||Nash Rawiller||9||57.5kg||117|
|13||211×625115||HIGHLAND REEL (IRE)||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore||4||56kg||119|
|14||7515211×11||WINX||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||1||55.5kg||115|