Dual winning hoop in Australasia’s weight-for-age championship Damien Oliver believes his mount in the 2016 Cox Plate field Vadamos is a livewire hope to score an upset over the odds-on favourite Winx.
After the superstar mare posted her 12th win on the trot with an all-too-easy win in last Saturday’s Group 1 Ladbrokes Stakes (2000m) over her two rivals, the five-year-old is out to extend the winning streak with a second Cox Plate success.
The only other hopeful rated any chance of stopping her demolition job is Hartnell ($3), the John O’Shea-trained six-year-old last seen running away at Flemington to win the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) by over three lengths.
Occupying the third line of futures Cox Plate betting at a more generous $15 is the Andre Fabre-trained French raider Vadamos.
A six-year-old Monsun stallion based at Chantilly, Vadamos will be partnered by Oliver in the Cox Plate 2016 with the jockey chasing a third win to add to those won aboard Dane Ripper (1997) and Northerly (2001).
Vadamos was last seen winning the Group 1 Qatar Prix Moulin Longchamp Stakes (1600m) on September 11, but has winning form back home over the Cox Plate distance and further.
On Tuesday morning the horse was put through his paces in a fast piece of work at the Werribee International Horse Centre by Oliver, who was ultra-impressed with how Vadamos felt.
“He was very strong and quite keen in his work,” Oliver told Racing Victoria.
“He’s a beautiful big, strong horse and you can see he’s got a touch of class about him.”
While having plenty of respect for Winx heading into the Cox Plate, Oliver genuinely believes Vadamos had the potential to stretch her and Hartnell in the showdown.
“He’s got the potential for that,” he said.
“It’s always difficult to line them up from the other side of the world but he’s a last-start Group 1 winner so you’ve certainly got to respect him.”
This Saturday Oliver chases a fifth win in the iconic $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), and his first since Sky Heights (1999), riding the Lee & Anthony Freedman-trained import Exospheric.
Co-trainer Lee Freedman is a four-time Caulfield Cup winning trainer, his last champ being Mummify (2003), and Beat Hollow stallion is rated a $10 shot to win the race first-up in his Australian debut on the weekend.
Oliver also rode Exospheric at Werribee on Tuesday morning, but wasn’t exactly sure where to place him ahead of Saturday’s mile and a half classic.
“He was much more switched on working with another horse,” he said.
“He was a bit lazy and a bit laid-back the first time I rode him so I was more pleased after working with a partner.
“He’s a bit of a quirky horse. He’s not straight forward but I’m sure come race day, we’ll see the best of him.”
Still, the strong European form of Exospheric and fellow Caulfield Cup raider Sir Isaac Newton ($12) for Ireland’s Aidan O’Brien gives Oliver a level of pre-race confidence.
“I think horses like him and Sir Isaac Newton there has been little between them throughout their careers so I think he’s come with an excellent chance,” he said.
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