Geelong trainer Alan Hunter is eyeing a 2016 Cox Plate upset this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival with his lightly-raced four-year-old Astro Castro in the mix for the Moonee Valley major.
A son of American-bred sire Astronomer Royal, Astro Castro has had just one start to date winning over 1100m down the Flemington straight on July 23 as a $101 roughie.
He may have scored a surprise victory on debut, but that hasn’t helped his chances in the bookies’ eyes when it comes to futures betting on this year’s $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) on October 22.
The up-and-comer at a triple-figure quote of $301 in all-in Cox Plate betting at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Futures Cox Plate odds are firmly led at $2.70 by Chris Waller’s reigning champion Winx who is down to resume racing in Sydney’s Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) on August 20.
Hunter said there was already overseas interest from Hong Kong for the GJ Burns & KM Burns owned racecourse, but that the team seriously believed the galloper capable of putting himself in the Cox Plate frame.
“It’s a very serious offer but having the Cox Plate nomination behind him shows how serious we are about the horse’s ability,” Hunter told the media this week.
“The vet process starts next week, but we have to make plans no matter what and backing him now was the best way to move forward no matter what happens.
“We have mapped out a plan if Hong Kong falls through.”
Hunter said the horse was currently being kept in light work after his winning debut.
“He’s on the water walker at the moment just having a freshen up,” he said.
The longest-priced Cox Plate winner from the past 30 years was Dane Ripper (1997) who saluted at odds of 40/1 for Bart Cummings one year after the success of stablemate Saintly (5/1 in 1996).
Another surprise entry for the Cox Plate this season is unraced colt Fancy Grey whose Cranbourne-based breeder and trainer Tetyana Furdetska is yet to saddle-up a starter in any race.
“I am really happy with how is going,” Furdetska told online news sources this week.
“I have been here about 10 years and I love horses. I have three babies [in work].
“This is my dream and let us see what happens, we still haven’t won any races yet.”
Fancy Grey is a son of unraced Wadham Park-owned mare Take My Fancy by Irish-bred stallion Grey Swallow who was formerly prepared by Dermot Weld overseas before being imported down under for a Cox Plate bid.
He failed in his 2006 Cox Plate attempt for trainer Dale Sutton when dead last (12th) beaten nearly 12 lengths by the David Hayes-trained 20/1 winner Fields Of Omagh a decade ago.
Fancy Grey is at odds of $501 to Cox Plate betting, the longest price of any listed entry.
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