Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
Winx is all anyone is talking about in the lead-up to Saturday’s 2017 Ladbrokes Cox Plate and despite thoughts of a record small field, there are eight horses taking on the champion.
For some this is the first time attending the Winx show as the Chris Waller-trained super star looks for her third straight win in the Group 1 $3 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m).
It is a three-peat feat only ever done by Kingston Town in the early 1980s but if there has ever been a horse to repeat it, Winx is it.
She is already a 14-time Group 1 hero thanks to the runaway effort in Flemington’s Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) last start.
Makybe Diva (2005) was the first to do the Turnbull Stakes – Cox Plate double on way to her historical third consecutive Melbourne Cup victory over the two miles.
With success on Saturday, Winx will have earned more prize money than Makybe Diva and equal Black Caviar with 15 Group 1 wins.
It’s all fairy tale stuff, but the Cox Plate remains a horse race and things could go wrong.
It would take something catastrophic to see the $1.16 favourite in Cox Plate betting at Ladbrokes.com.au to go down and really, a disaster is what the rest of the field needs to get close.
Many in the mix have tried before and failed, so which of the other Cox Plate horses in 2017 have chased Winx home and which are yet to taste defeat at the hands of the world’s best mare?
2017 Cox Plate Horses: Record Against Winx
- 2016 George Ryder Stakes 5th – 5.2L beaten
- 2016 Doncaster Mile 2nd – 2L beaten
- 2016 Cox Plate 6th – 11L beaten
- 2017 Queen Elizabeth Stakes 5th – 7.7L beaten
- 2017 George Main Stakes 2nd – 1.3L beaten
Of the horses in the 2017 Cox Plate field it is Pat Webster’s Epsom Handicap winner Happy Clapper who has suffered defeat at the hands of Winx more than any other. Saturday is his sixth round with the heroic mare and it’ll be his sixth loss. His closest finish was in this year’s George Main Stakes over the Randwick mile when only 1.3 lengths off her. He was also second in the 2016 Doncaster Mile, so he’s got the form for placing on Saturday. Winx was shaky in her opening three starts having to overcome quite a few obstacles though, so don’t expect him to get within that one and a bit margin this time.
- 2017 Cox Plate 8th – 12.55L beaten
This Darren Weir-trained import encountered Winx in the 2015 Cox Plate on debut down under and was 12.55 lengths beaten for eighth. He went on to win the then Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Derby Day next start and is back for a second round with the champion mare sixth-up on Saturday after winning the Group 1 Ladbrokes Stakes (2000m) on October 14 that produced Winx for her 2016 Cox Plate success.
- 2017 Turnbull Stakes 3rd – 7.25L beaten
Humidor was tipped to give Winx a genuine challenge on October 7 when she faced a new rival at a new track. Darren Weir’s galloper was coming off the brilliant 3.25 length Makybe Diva Stakes success and jumped second favourite in the Turnbull Stakes going up to 2000m. He’d been to Headquarters and dominated, she hadn’t. What was everyone worried about? Winx did it with easy powering home for a 6.5 length win over Ventura Storm with Humidor a disappointing third. She’s been rested since, he had the Caulfield Cup run (5th) last weekend. He’ll be doing it tough behind her again.
Jane Chapple-Hyam trained stallion from the UK has had just one run in Australia and finished well at the back of the Toorak Handicap field (16th). Hasn’t won over further than 1700m and is $91 in the Cox Plate markets. Won’t even be in the straight when Winx is over the line for her third Cox Plate trophy done and dusted.
The second international Cox Plate contender, this Charlie Appleby-trained five-year-old is a far better place chance. First-up in Australia Kerrin McEvoy rode him for a commanding 2.75 length Listed Cranbourne Cup (2025m) win on October 15. McEvoy opted to stay on instead of taking the light mount on three-year-old market mover Royal Symphony. Could be a sign.
First time against Winx for this Lindsay Park-trained Sebring four-year-old who was a surprise late inclusion into the mix. Triple-figures for a reason. Hasn’t won since March of 2016. Was good as a three-year-old finishing second in the 2016 Caulfield Guineas and 2nd in the Mackinnon Stakes last year, his form since has been disappointing. Improved when fifth in the Toorak Handicap, but not good enough to get a look at Winx.
The roughie of the line-up, can this four-year-old Redoute’s Choice entire prove a more worthy Winx rival that the blowout odds suggest? Has winning form at the track / distance in Group 2 class, ATC Derby third in the autumn, 10th in the Caulfield Cup over 2400m forgivable. Won’t challenge her but won’t be disgraced either.
With Winx in the field it is crazy to think anyone is betting against her, but someone is as this Tony McEvoy-trained three-year-old has been smashed in from $21. Jumps one on Winx’s outside from the Cox Plate barriers and will be flying with 49.5kg. Dean Yendall ran third on Yankee Rose in the Cox Plate trifecta 12 months ago, tipping a similar finish for him and his new 3YO mount on Saturday.
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