The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Update: Race favourite Zaaki has been scratched from the 2021 Cox Plate field on Saturday morning due to an elevated temperature and will now target the Group 1 $2 million Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) on November 6.
The Annabel Neasham-trained Zaaki will seek atonement for his last start flop in the Caulfield Stakes taking on a class field of 10 in Saturday’s weight-for-age championship at The Valley – the 2021 Ladbrokes Cox Plate.
A sensational winning streak for Zaaki came to a shock end third-up on October 9 when one of the spruik horses of the season ran third behind Probabeel and subsequent Caulfield Cup runner-up Nonconformist in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m).
This Saturday he runs over the same distance heading to the notorious Moonee Valley track for the iconic $5 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and has retained favouritism for the ‘Race Where Legends Are Made’.
The latest Cox Plate odds at race sponsor Ladbrokes.com.au are offering around $3 for Zaaki to bounce back and return to winning form come Saturday, but his price is more generous than originally predicted at the start of the spring.
Zaaki’s biggest threat is now expected to be Godolphin young gun Anamoe who trails closely in Cox Plate betting to hand trainer James Cummings his first victory in the time-honoured classic.
The classy Street Boss colt is five from 10 coming into his Cox Plate bid having most recently been seen winning the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) in his first mile bid on October 9.
Twenty three-year-olds have won the Cox Plate since 1922, the last being Shamus Award who made history as the first maiden to win.
It will be an emotional Cox Plate Day for the Ciaron Maher & David Eustace stable after they sadly lost their reigning champion Sir Dragonet last Saturday morning after the great horse broke down during trackwork.
They return looking to honour his legacy 12 months on not with him as expected, but still with French-bred import Gold Trip.
The five-year-old Outstrip entire makes his Australian race debut in the Cox Plate field having last been seen running third in the Group 1 GP Saint Cloud (2400m) back in July.
Despite being unraced down under, Gold Trip is being kept safe in Cox Plate markets around $10 back-to-back wins for a stable for the first time since the historic Chris Waller four-peat with Winx (2015-18).
Waller meanwhile will look to secure his fifth Cox Plate trophy saddling his nine-time elite level winner Verry Elleegant.
Reigning Australian Racehorse of the Year, Zed six-year-old Verry Elleegant has amassed over $9.3 million in prize money over her illustrious career and is out to take her number of Group 1 wins into double-figures.
Should she do so, she will go down in history as one of the greatest ever mares of the turf, but she has work to do after looking flat last time out when 3.5 lengths away fourth as the beaten $2 favourite in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m).
The Turnbull Stakes winner Incentivise of course franked that form with a simply sensational Caulfield Cup victory last weekend and all eyes will be on Verry Elleegant as she looks to bounce back on Saturday.
She has been to The Valley just once before in the 2019 Cox Plate when running a disappointing 12th behind the Japanese raider Lys Gracieux.
Still, her record and class speak for themselves and there is a shade of value for her at around $9.
The other standout Cox Plate final acceptor for 2021 is the Irish raider State Of Rest for Joseph O’Brien.
O’Brien’s father Aidan famously won a Cox Plate back in 2014 Adelaide who won as a Northern Hemisphere-trained four-year-old.
While O’Brien junior is yet to win this race, he has an incredible Melbourne Cup record having prepared both Rekindling in 2017 and last year’s hero Twilight Payment (2020) to win the ‘Race That Stops A Nation’.
Racing in Australia as a four-year-old, State Of Rest is a four-year-old son of Starspangledbanner and comes off a massive upset at over 20/1 in the Derby Invitational (1911m) in America.
Other Cox Plate horses chasing an upset this spring include the likes of Jamie Richards’ Caulfield Stakes winning mare Probabeel, Peter & Paul Snowden’s Capitalist colt Captivant coming off a half-length second to Anamoe in the Caulfield Guineas at 25/1 and the forgotten Mo’unga.
A stablemate to the favourite, the fellow Neasham-trained Savabeel four-year-old Mo’unga beat Verry Elleegant home fresh in the Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m) in Sydney.
A second to Incentivise in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington followed before he went back to Sydney for a fifth only one and a half lengths off Private Eye carrying 57kg in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m).
His Sydney – Melbourne – Sydney – Melbourne travels continue for the Cox Plate where Mo’unga gets out to 2000m rock hard fit fourth-up having won the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas over the distance as a three-year-old.
The South Australian Group 1 maiden Dalasan and the Kiwi raider Callsign Mav over from New Zealand having their last official run for John Bary round out the official Cox Plate field.
The 2021 Cox Plate Barrier Draw saw Zaaki draw barrier six outside of his stablemate Mo’unga in 4, while Anamoe has the outside barrier 10 to contend from.
2021 Cox Plate Field & Barrie Draw
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Penalty||Hcp Rating|
|1||x6D111x113||ZAAKI (GB)||Annabel Neasham||James McDonald||6||59kg|
|2||7x0733x083||DALASAN||Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas||Daniel Moor||3||59kg|
|3||0x34x52x3x||GOLD TRIP (FR)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Damien Oliver||2||59kg|
|4||3x21223x11||CALLSIGN MAV (NZ)||John Bary||Luke Nolen||5||59kg|
|5||x32107x125||MO’UNGA (NZ)||Annabel Neasham||Hugh Bowman||4||57.5kg|
|6||7x3112x214||VERRY ELLEEGANT (NZ)||Chris Waller||Damian Lane||9||57kg|
|7||x1102x1521||PROBABEEL (NZ)||Jamie Richards||Brett Prebble||7||57kg|
|8||125435x31x||STATE OF REST (IRE)||Joseph O’Brien||John Allen||8||56.5kg|
|9||x23121x121||ANAMOE||James Cummings||Craig Williams||10||49.5kg|
|10||x3531x3672||CAPTIVANT||Peter & Paul Snowden||Dean Yendall||1||49.5kg|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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