Galloping Room for Hartnell With Cox Plate Barrier Draw

Godolphin head trainer John O’Shea was pleased with the 2016 Cox Plate barrier draw results for his fancy Hartnell who will jump from barrier seven with all the galloping room he needs to score the upset win over Winx.


Turnbull Stakes winner Hartnell is out to improve on his fifth last year in Saturday’s 2016 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley. Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos.

Chris Waller’s glamour mare and reigning champion, Winx is drawn barrier three in the 10-horse field for Saturday’s $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m).

Shooting for her 13th win on the trot and ninth Group 1 win, the superstar daughter of Street Cry is out to be the first Cox Plate winner from barrier three since Shamus Award (2013).

She won from the inside alley 12 months ago and has her regular rider Hugh Bowman back aboard on Saturday as she shoots for the Caulfield Stakes – Cox Plate double recently achieved by Ocean Park (2012).

The latest Cox Plate odds at have Winx as the firming $2.15 favourite to take out Australasia’s weight-for-age championship for the second time.

Close second favourite in Cox Plate betting this season is Hartnell ($3.40) who was last seen running away at Flemington on October 2 to take out the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m).

El Segundo (2007) was the last Cox Plate winner to back directly up off a Turnbull Stakes run (6th), while you have to go back a couple more years to the mighty Makybe Diva (2005) who completed the double Hartnell is after on the weekend.

He came up with a worse than midfield barrier seven draw for the Cox Plate, where he’ll be out to improve on his fifth to Winx in last year’s Cox Plate result.

O’Shea, who is yet to prepare a Cox Plate winner, was far happier drawing that gate than an inside alley where his Authorized six-year-old could get caught up.

“It’s better for us to draw there. If we’d have drawn one, two or three, it’ll have been difficult,” O’Shea said at Breakfast with the Best on Tuesday.

“I like where he’s drawn – it allows him some galloping room.

“I think the club should be commended for sticking with the rail in the true position.

“I think that’s a wonderful initiative. Let the jockeys find the best ground. If it’s a little worn on the inside, they’ll be able to get to the best part of the track.

“Each week we’ve worked him in Melbourne, he looks to have improved. This week’s been no different.

“If you watch last week in the Turnbull, James [McDonald] was able to let him roll along a little bit in the first couple of furlongs, get him into a nice rhythm.

“From gate seven, we don’t have to be bustling; we can take our time and have a similar approach.”

James McDonald retains the mount in the Cox Plate, the Sydney-based hoop also after his first win in the classic.

O’Shea assessment of the Cox Plate barriers could be true with recent history showing three winners in the past decade jumping from gate seven, most recently So You Think for his first in 2009.

So You Think also returned to win in 2010, and Winx is out to be the first back-to-back Cox Plate champion since the late Bart Cummings-trained superstar.

Winx has defeated Hartnell three times previously, and while he has plenty of respect for the favourite, O’Shea thinks it could be a different result on Saturday.

“It’s of no consequence. It’s a new race,” he said.

“She’s a deserved favourite. She’s a champion.

“We love her just as much as everyone else, because she’s by one of our stallions, bred by one of Godolphin’s leading clients John Camilleri.

“We’ve got as much appreciation for Winx as everyone else has.”

O’Shea will also saddle-up last start Epsom Handicap winner Hauraki ($18) from gate eight who chases the double Winx achieved 12 months ago.

“Any other year he’s probably going to be single figures in a Cox Plate,” the Godolphin trainer said.

“He is a good chance.

“If either James or Hugh [Bowman] worry about each other and forget about the race, Hauraki’s the horse that could come late for sure.”

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