The money continues to roll in for Annabel...
History was made when Shamus Award broke his maiden status winning Australasia’s weight-for-age championship as a three-year-old in 2013 but his trainer Danny O’Brien said the youngster in the 2017 Cox Plate, Royal Symphony, cannot beat Winx.
Winx is odds-on favourite to win the Group 1 $3 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday for the third year on the trot.
The Cox Plate history books show just one other triple Cox Plate champion, Kingston Town (1980-82), and Winx is tipped to join him.
After beating Criterion by nearly five lengths in 2015, the superstar daughter of Street Cry smashed Hartnell by a record eight length winning margin in the Cox Plate results last year.
In third was the three-year-old filly Yankee Rose ridden by Dean Yendall.
Yendall is back on the sole three-year-old in this weekend’s Cox Plate field, the Tony McEvoy-trained Royal Symphony looking to be the first of that age group to salute since Shamus Award (2013).
It was real fairy tale stuff when the O’Brien-trained Shamus Award scored the Cox Plate upset four years ago as a $21 outsider.
He came off a lead-up third in the Group 1 Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas (1600m), but had experience at The Valley with a second in that season’s Group 2 Stocks Stakes (1600m).
Shamus Award was ridden to Cox Plate success by apprentice Chad Schofield and would go on to win the next year’s Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington.
O’Brien obviously has fond memories of Cox Plate Day in 2013 and spoke to The Australian this week about this year’s race, hyped-up by the Winx story.
Asked whether the market mover Royal Symphony ($21 into $16) was a winning hope at scoring the boilover Cox Plate win over Winx, O’Brien was quick to respond with a resounding “no”.
“The answer is no, because this is not a normal year,” O’Brien said.
“You’ve got a champion going around at $1.10 and something would have to go terribly wrong for her to be beaten.
“In a normal year, Tony McEvoy’s horse would be a genuine chance to win it.”
Royal Symphony, like Shamus Award did, comes off a lead-up in the Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas (4th).
Unlike O’Brien’s all-the-way Cox Plate winner, Royal Symphony is yet to be tested around the tight Moonee Valley circuit.
The lightweight is drawn one on the outside of Winx, the mare getting the space she needs from barrier six, while Royal Symphony jumps from gate seven.
Barrier seven last produced a Cox Plate winner in 2009 when then three-year-old So You Think won as a $13 chance before returning as the $1.50 favourite going back-to-back in 2010.
And of course Winx is coming off 21 straight wins, has won back-to-back Cox Plates at the track, is five-from-six over the distance and is an equine freak.
“She’s now been dominant at a mile and a mile-and-a-quarter for the best part of three years,” O’Brien said.
“She’s done something we’ve never seen done.
“By the same token, I think Royal Symphony is a huge chance to run second.
“I think he’s the one with the most improvement to come.
“The Caulfield Guineas can be a good guide to the Cox Plate and he was unlucky when running on into fourth almost a fortnight ago.”
Think Royal Symphony can do the impossible? Check out the latest 2017 Cox Plate odds on all the gallopers for this weekend now at Ladbrokes.com.au.
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