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Jockey Seamie Heffernan said a fast going track at Moonee Valley was essential for Cox Plate 2016 hope Long Island Sound should the Aidan O’Brien-trained youngster make the trip down under this season.
Irish horseman O’Brien made history in 2014 preparing the first Cox Plate winner from Ireland, Adelaide, and has 11 horses nominated for the October 22 classic again this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
The shortest-priced of O’Brien’s nominees for this year’s $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) in pre-field betting at Ladbrokes.com.au is Highland Reel ($17) who ran third to Winx in the weight-for-age classic last season.
On way to his Cox Plate placing, Highland Reel won the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes (2012m) at Arlington in the United States last August.
That same race for three-year-olds took place again this year over the weekend and revealed another possible Cox Plate hope for O’Brien in runner-up Long Island South.
The race was won by the locally Chad Brown-trained Beach Patrol, while Long Island South was regulated to second after briefly hitting the front in the elite level clash.
Heffernan was pleased with the performance and said the son of War Front, who would race as a four-year-old in Australia, was best on Fast (firm) going.
“He’s an improving horse,” Heffernan told the media post-race.
“I don’t see anything wrong with running him on fast ground in America.”
O’Brien wasn’t trackside to comment on where the Coolmore team were at in regards to a Cox Plate bid, but Heffernan said he believed the horse was well up to the challenge.
“He could. Good, fast ground is his thing. And he stays. He’s tough. Hopefully more to come,” the hoop said.
Long Island South is currently only rated a $51 hope in all-in Cox Plate odds.
Shorter in the markets at $26 is stablemate Deauville who Heffernan also rode at Arlington on Saturday for a brave third behind Mondialiste in the Grade Arlington Million Stakes (2011m).
The top level placing in The States followed the Galileo stallion’s win in last month’s Group 1 Belmont Derby (2012m) also in the USA when ridden by Jamie Spencer.
“My horse had a pretty good run,” Heffernan said of Deauville’s Arlington Million performance.
“He was the only three-year-old in the race. He was in a lovely position and two other horses just came and got me. Solid performance.”
Deauville is also nominated for the $3 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) a week before the Cox Plate in Melbourne.
The horse pays $31 in the early Caulfield Cup betting markets, while his stablemates Bondi Beach and Highland Reel are at $21 to win the mile and a half showdown.
Unplaced in the Arlington Million but still on track for a possible Cox Plate assignment in Australia in October meanwhile was the Charlie Appleby-trained Tryster (eighth).
The Shamardal gelding from Newmarket in the UK is an official international invitee for the Cox Plate by the Moonee Valley Racing Club (MVRC) and Appleby still has the race as an option for the $41 shot who got caught wide in the Arlington Million.
“The [slow early] pace of the race and being drawn outside didn’t help,” Appleby said.
“In the end we didn’t get beaten that far. It appears 2,000 metres is his limit, and that would suit for the Cox Plate.
“Obviously we have the invitation, so we would still be looking to go.”
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