Australia’s best racehorse and defending champion Winx has drawn to perfection set to jump from barrier three in a 10-horse Cox Plate 2016 field at Moonee Valley Racecourse this Saturday.
The Chris Waller-trained Street Cry mare is the headline final acceptor for the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m), Australasia’s weight-for-age championship the second of the ‘Big 3’ spring majors.
Last season Winx made history with her runaway 4.75 length Cox Plate success from the inside alley with Hugh Bowman aboard.
The now eight-time Group 1 winner will be out to emulate that success this weekend and post her incredible 13th win on the trot with Bowman continuing his ace association.
The last back-to-back Cox Plate winner was So You Think (2009-10), while the last champ to jump from barrier three was Shamus Award (2013) only three years ago.
Winx is the current $2.25 favourite in the updated post-barrier draw Cox Plate odds at Ladbrokes.com.au and she is followed closely by fellow star Sydney raider Hartnell ($3.20).
Last start the John O’Shea-trained Authorized six-year-old blitzed his rivals in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) by a minimum 3.25 lengths including runner-up, the subsequent Caulfield Cup winner Jameka.
The Flemington win on October 2 followed two even more dominant Sydney wins with Hartnell completing the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes – Hill Stakes double by a combined 13.5 lengths.
He has faced off against Waller’s glamour mare three times previously, including his fifth in last year’s Cox Plate.
Hartnell came closest to lowering the $7.5 million earner’s flag first-up in Sydney on August 20 when runner-up to her in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m).
Ace Sydney-based jockey James McDonald travels for the Cox Plate ride on Hartnell this Saturday from barrier seven, a gate that has produced three winners in the past decade including So You Think for his first in 2009.
O’Shea is yet to saddle-up a Cox Plate winner but has two in the mix this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival with Hartnell joined in the field by stablemate Hauraki.
Drawn one wider in barrier eight, which hasn’t produced a Cox Plate champion in over 30 years, the ultra-consistent Reset stallion has run top two in his five latest starts.
He was last seen backing up from a second to Winx in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) with a narrow victory in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on October 1.
Hauraki hasn’t raced in Melbourne since his eighth to Mongolian Khan in last year’s Caulfield Cup over the mile and a half, but he has a strong place rate over the Cox Plate distance (5-1-3-0).
In the latest Cox Plate betting markets Hauraki is at $17 to score the upset.
Following Winx and Hartnell who are tipped to battle it out in the Cox Plate quinella, the other best fancied in the markets are the Andre Fabre-trained French raider Vadamos ($11) and dual Group 1 winning filly Yankee Rose ($13).
Monson stallion Vadamos was last seen winning the Group 1 Moulin De Longchamp (1600m) back in France on September 11 and is drawn barrier two for his down under debut.
The ‘Magic Man’ Joao Moreira has the ride on the sole international Cox Plate contender in 2016 from the gun gate one on the inside of Winx with Vadamos looking to join Adelaide (2014) as the only Northern Hemisphere-trained winners of the race.
Yankee Rose is out to break the hoodoo of fillies in the Cox Plate and join Surround (1976) as the only three-year-old female galloper to win the classic.
Dean Yendall broke his Group 1 maiden on the daughter of All American last start in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on October 8 and retains the ride on the 47.5kg lightweight this weekend.
The other mare taking on the boys in the Cox Plate field 2016 is Kris Lees’ multiple Group 1 winning champ Lucia Valentina out to improve on her third to Black Heart Bart in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) from September 24.
Rounding out the field are Paul Beshara’s veteran nine-year-old Happy Trails contesting his fifth Cox Plate where his best result to date was the second to Shamus Award in 2013, the boom Darren Weir-trained Black Heart Bart coming off the second to Winx in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m), the Patrick Webster-trained Happy Clapper and Awesome Rock.
See below for the full Cox Plate 2016 field, barriers and jockeys before heading to Ladbrokes.com.au to place your bets at the home of Enhanced Odds (T&Cs apply).
2016 Cox Plate Final Field & Barrier Draw
Moonee Valley Racecourse – 22/10/2016
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||08x0775x85||HAPPY TRAILS||Paul Beshara||Ben Melham||10||59kg||112|
|2||21212×1212||BLACK HEART BART||Darren Weir||Brad Rawiller||6||59kg||118|
|3||650x5x2111||HARTNELL (GB)||John O’Shea||James McDonald||7||59kg||123|
|5||1x4523x564||HAPPY CLAPPER||Patrick Webster||Brenton Avdulla||4||59kg||115|
|6||10×2014121||VADAMOS (FR)||Andre Fabre||Joao Moreira||2||59kg||121|
|7||x0420x0155||AWESOME ROCK||Leon & Troy Corstens||Stephen Baster||5||59kg||115|
|8||1x1111x111||WINX||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||3||57kg||127|
|9||8915x41x43||LUCIA VALENTINA (NZ)||Kris Lees||Kerrin McEvoy||9||57kg||117|
|10||11x21x621||YANKEE ROSE||David Vandyke||Dean Yendall||1||47.5kg||112|