John O’Shea confirmed a 2015 Mackinnon Stakes target Saturday week on Victoria Derby Day at Flemington Racecourse for the Godolphin stable’s non-acceptor for this weekend’s Cox Plate Contributer.
O’Shea has two starters in Saturday’s capacity 14-starer field in Moonee Valley’s $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) with Hartnell and Complacent jumping from barriers three and six respectively.
Winner of the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) in Sydney back in late March, Authorized five-year-old Hartnell is the best fancied of the two paying $17 in Cox Plate betting at Ladbrokes.com.au who are offering Best Tote or SP + 20% on every single Moonee Valley race on Saturday!
After his first win since Group 1 over the mile and a half at Rosehill, Hartnell comes off a good sixth to Preferment when beaten only one and a quarter lengths in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 4.
James McDonald is down to ride Hartnell, his fourth ride in the race as he chases his first top three finish, and instructions will be to take the horse back in the field.
Half-brother Complacent meanwhile has barrier six, which last produced a Cox Plate winner in 2008 with Maldivian, and made the cut despite looking like he would miss out on a run like he did last Saturday failing to gain a start as an emergency for the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
A winner of two of his past three starts in Sydney, Complacent is another five-year-old son of Authorized and his latest run was in the Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m) at the start of the month – Brazilian hoop Joao Moreira booked for the ride in Saturday’s major.
“The ground will suit him, and he got around the Valley really well this morning,” O’Shea told Racing Victoria after Breakfast with the Best on Tuesday morning, which he avoided with Hartnell.
“He’s a genuine mile-and-a-half horse, and I think you’ll want that on Saturday – I don’t think there’ll be any place if you struggle at the 10 (furlongs).”
Originally O’Shea also had Contributer entered for the Cox Plate, but he and connections made the call not to pay the $27,500 final acceptance fee for the weight-for-age classic on Tuesday morning.
The High Chaparral six-year-old boasts eight wins from 17 starts for over $1 million in prize money to date, Contributer last seen running fifth to $6 Cox Plate fancy Criterion in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) a fortnight ago.
Winner of the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) – Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) double in the autumn, he will now get an extra week between runs with the $1 million Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) his confirmed target.
“From our perspective, we believe he hasn’t had the right scenario in any of his races to show his best form,” O’Shea said.
“We’re very happy with the way he’s going. First-up, he got on the inside on firm ground (when fifth in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes).
“Then of course he went to the Underwood (Stakes, finishing sixth) and got back last on a day where you couldn’t make up ground in a fast-run race.
“Then at Caulfield (for the Caulfield Stakes), really firm ground – the race inverted. He was the best of the on-speeders. I’m not disappointed in the horse, I just don’t think he’s got the right scenario to show his best wares yet.
“We think he’s going better than the autumn.”
O’Shea is yet to prepare a Mackinnon Stakes winner and the last to not come off either a Cox Plate or Caulfield Cup run was Desert War (2006) who ran second in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) in Sydney before his victory in the weight-for-age classic.
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