Jockey Stephen Baster confirmed he would be going forward on Saturday in the Cox Plate 2016 aboard Awesome Rock who is at the big odds to score the upset win over Winx and Hartnell.
Markets for this year’s $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Ladbrokes.com.au are all about Chris Waller’s superstar mare Winx ($2) who thrashed her rivals in the race last year and the big danger Hartnell ($3.50) for John O’Shea and the Godolphin team.
At the other end of Cox Plate betting paying a roughies’ price of $71 is Fastnet Rock five-year-old Awesome Rock.
The Leon & Troy Corstens-trained stallion has been honest this campaign including the runaway two length win as a $31 outsider second-up in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley.
“He surprised us a bit in the Dato’,” Awesome Rock’s regular rider Baster told Peter Moody on Ladbrokes Daily Wire.
Next-up the galloper was under four lengths beaten when fifth to Black Heart Bart, a $17 Cox Plate hope this weekend, at Caulfield in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m).
His last start was another competitive fifth behind He’s Our Rokkii when only 1.5 lengths off the winner in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) back down to a mile at Caulfield.
Saturday will be Baster’s 11th straight ride on Awesome Rock who is drawn mid-field in barrier five in the 10-starter Cox Plate field.
Plans are to go forward in the weight-for-age classic, with the horse up over the distance for the first time since his dead last (14th) behind another Cox Plate rival on Saturday Lucia Valentina in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) in Sydney on April 9.
“We’ve been riding him quiet this prep,” Baster said.
“We’re thinking going to the 2000 [metres] we’ll go forward on him because it’s obviously going to be very hard to outsprint them two good ones [Winx and Hartnell].”
Awesome Rock’s two other runs over 2000m produced competitive second place finishes in the Group 3 Coongy Cup (2000m) on Caulfield Cup Day last year and the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m), which he lost on protest to second-past-the-post Preferment.
Fellow Cox Plate jockey this weekend, Kerrin McEvoy, is also chasing an upset aboard the Kris Lees-trained Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Lucia Valentina.
The six-year-old daughter of Savabeel has won over $4.2 million in prize money over her career to date and is a gun at the distance with four wins, a second and third from eight starts at 2000m.
She last encountered Winx at Randwick on August 20 when fourth in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m), a race Hartnell ran second in, and has had just the one run since.
Damien Oliver rode her for a third behind Black Heart Bart in the Underwood Stakes, but McEvoy is back on Saturday and said the current $21 shot ticked a number of boxes.
“She’s a weight-for-age winner at 2000 [metres] so there’s lots of plusses in our corner,” he said.
“Obviously the negatives are both Hartnell and Winx.”
Check out the latest Cox Plate 2016 betting odds and options online now at Ladbrokes.com.au!