Cox Plate 2012: Preview, top tips and live blog
Pierro has been retired from racing. AAP Image/Paul Miller
The WS Cox Plate of 2012 – the weight-for-age championship of Australasia – is upon us once more and the honour roll of winners consists of a ‘who’s who’ throughout Australasian racing.
This year’s edition features the innocent fairytale of three young horses tackling the older ones and all have legitimate claims on this race.
If they can repeat the success of So You Think who was the last three year old to win the Cox Plate, they will skyrocket into the top echelon of thoroughbred race horses.
Let’s take a look at each of the runners.
One of the proven WFA runners in this field, his last start in the G1 Epsom Handicap can be forgiven when he ran as the top weight and was overrun by horses carrying 6kg less than him.
He ran fourth in this race last year but is form this year is better than the lead up to his previous attempt. This preparation he has won the G1 George Main Stakes impressively under WFA conditions.
From barrier four he’ll settle midfield and get cover throughout the race.
When interviewed during the week, jockey Hugh Bowman hardly exuded confidence when he flat out said he does not expect Shoot Out to win but believes a place is a good chance if he gets luck in the running.
That pretty much sums up this horses form. If it rains strongly however, Shoot Out is the horse to watch. He loves a wet track.
Supporting this horse is one of the most frustrating things for punters. 18 months ago he had a golden patch where he was establishing himself as one of Australia’s best horses but this spring when concerns were raised about his ability to run the Melbourne direction, he came out and reproduced that old form by winning the G1 Memsie Stakes at Flemington.
He then went on to run a worse race when fifth in the G1 Underwood Stakes which confirmed his inability to run beyond 1600m.
He then came out and ran third in the G1 Caulfield Stakes behind Ocean Park and Alcopop who went on to run second in the Caulfield Cup. Analysing this horse’s form creates headaches because he offers no consistency.
It seems the best analysis is to avoid him beyond 1600m, where he is supreme. This is 2040m.
From 25 starts he has 12 wins for just one second and one third placing. He either wins or he doesn’t. He won’t win this.
3. Glass Harmonium
He’s had two runs this preparation and they’ve both been shockers. Fortunately for him however, they were under handicap conditions when he carried big weights against lightweight fields in races of lesser quality than this field.
The winner of last year’s G1 Mackinnon Stakes, he’s a proven WFA horse against Australia’s best and would have run a good race in last year’s Cox Plate had he not missed the start.
His best races are run from the front and from barrier two, that’s where he’ll go when the gates open.
He’ll do his best to control the tempo of the race but there will be plenty of speed coming from the back of the field when they turn for home and he won’t be able to keep up with them.
4. Green Moon
While his form is appealing and always runs well in the big races, there’s question marks over this horse’s ability to run under WFA conditions since his planned finale has always been the Melbourne Cup.
He won the G1 Turnbull Stakes at his last start but carries 3.5kg more here.
If the Melbourne Cup truly is the sole interest of owner Lloyd Williams who is not concerned about the prize money here, a win would mean a penalty in the Melbourne Cup which would be disastrous.
He’ll still run a good race and probably figure in the placings but there are horses much more desperate to win this race than Green Moon.
5. Rekindled Interest
Running third in this race last year, he is the track specialist in the field and has never run a bad race at Moonee Valley. His preparation this year has not been as good as it was last year with three starts returning a tenth, third and tenth finish.
His best run was his only WFA run in the G2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes where he stormed home from the back of the field for a respectable third.
He pretty much has the worst form in this field but he simply can’t be written off because of his record at the track.
He’s going to be a popular smokey selection because he can run this distance, this track and this race, but it would take a very confident punter to back him outright.
He’s had two starts this preparation since moving stables to the John Sadler yard but looks to have taken a step backwards. He’s never regained the form he showed two years ago and most of the runners in this race have shown better form.
Linton started this preparation running fourth in the G2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes but took a step backwards in his next start when he ran eleventh in the G1 Turnbull Stakes.
In the Turnbull when the turned for home, he simply stood still and could not go with them and was swamped very early in the straight.
He’s been given no luck having drawn the widest barrier so he’s either going to have to work very hard early or he’ll trail the field all the way home.
7. Happy Trails
Although he won the G2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes against quality opposition under WFA conditions at his last start, he limped over the line because the horses that ran second and third (Green Moon and Rekindled Interest) both ran a much faster final 400m than Happy Trails.
An increase of 10m would have seen Happy Trails pipped at the post because he’s not bred to run 2040m. His best distance is 1400m and stepping up to 1600m looked his limit.
He’s had over a month off from that run and he does his best work backing up so the long break may not suit. In the interview Glen Boss gave after the Dato win, he said the horse was really pushed to its limit over the final 100m and that he expected Happy Trails to go to the Emirates rather than the Cox Plate.
He’s beaten most of the horses in this field before but they’ve been rapidly improving over the past month while Happy Trails has been resting.
This lightly raced 4yo is dying for a big run after being stalled in the running of his only two starts this season. He ran seventh in the G2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes before finishing sixth in the G1 Turnbull Stakes.
He looks to be seeking a longer trip than 2040m which he’ll get when he runs in the Melbourne Cup which he’s already qualified for.
He’ll run an honest race today but everything he’s done suggests he is a genuine stayer who will use this as a warm up for the first Tuesday of November. He won’t win, and a place would be a stretch.
9. Ocean Park
The G1 Caulfield Stakes has over time proved to be the best form race for the Cox Plate and Ocean Park won that in what was suggested to be the weakest field in the history of the race.
Thoughts on that have changed however after the runner up Alcopop ran a gallant second in the Caulfield Cup.
This New Zealand raider has won his last three starts which have all been at WFA condition and he’s proven he can run this distance while carrying weight.
He’ll settle midfield and make his charge around the 400m mark. They’ll chase him to the post and he’ll be right there at the end if beaten.
10. More Joyous
She ran didn’t handle a big weight last start in the G1 Toorak Handicap, overrun by horses carrying 8kg less.
She’ll benefit in this race with everyone else asked to carry a big load but trainer Gai Waterhouse’s decision to select barrier 11 for the champion mare suggests a lack of confidence in More Joyous.
The wide barrier selection should see her stroll to the front and work as a pacemaker for the stable’s three year olds, Pierro and Proisir.
More Joyous has never looked anywhere near as good at 2000m as she does at 1600m so all the signs suggest she will not win this race. Her previous wins at WFA level have been against fields of lesser quality than here. When she comes up against the boys, she generally struggles.
11. Southern Speed
If you’re willing to forgive her last run in the G1 Turnbull Stakes when she beat just one horse home, she’s a slight chance in this.
She proved she can run at WFA level when she ran fourth in the G1 Underwood Stakes behind Ocean Park. When Glen Boss pulled her up after the Turnbull, he was adamant there was physically something wrong with the mare but she was given the all clear following a vet inspection.
Having won the Caulfield Cup last year with a light weight she has moved past the pigeon hole of being solely a handicapper with an impressive win in the G2 Makybe Diva Stakes under WFA conditions.
If there is genuinely nothing wrong with her, she is at big overs on the fixed odds market and deserves more respect. Barrier 13 will be no problem because she has run well from the back of the field before. If she stays around the $41 mark, throw all your loose change on her to run a place.
He was the hot favourite in the G1 Caulfield Guineas where he was beaten due to a bad gate and bad ride. His entire preparation has been leading up to this race and his inability to kick in the Guineas can be attributed to the bad ride he was given at the start.
That won’t happen today with a new jockey aboard and more importantly, he won’t be pushed to the front of the field thanks to stable mate More Joyous.
He’ll get a lovely run in the race and should have something left in him when he comes around the final bend. He’s expected to start the race as favourite and will be given cover in running but his lack of acceleration will be the biggest concern.
Throw him into the exotics if you can spare it but his lack of experience against better quality opposition make him just too unpredictable to back him with confidence.
13. All Too Hard
Still undefeated in Melbourne, the colt put in a super effort to pull of the biggest of upsets in the G1 Caulfield Guineas when he chased down Pierro.
He gets the big weight drop here but running 2040m is his biggest concern. He’s not bred to run this distance and his half sister Black Caviar would be unlikely to pull of this distance.
He has lined up against Shoot Out at WFA conditions two starts ago which some may forgive since he missed the start. He fought to the line in that race but was still beaten comfortably by the older horses and he looked to have run his grand final in the Guineas.
The last horse to win the Caulfield Guineas and Cox Plate in the same year was Red Anchor in 1984 and he looked a better horse than All Too Hard.
Many punters don’t believe he should even be in this race but of the three year olds, he’s the only one who has run the distance before. He was beaten in the G1 Spring Champion Stakes over 2000m by It’s A Dundeel who flew home like very few three year olds can. Proisir was given a shocking ride in that race but still managed to run a narrow second.
Throughout the week he has been doing track work with More Joyous and has looked better than the mare. He’ll get a very generous weight claim here and will be very relaxed after four weeks off compared to Pierro and All Too hard who both dogged it out to the line in the Caulfield Guineas two weeks ago. Proisir is bred to run this distance and he’s the best of the chances among the three year olds and deserves respect in trifectas.
Although this is far from the best fields we have seen for a Cox Plate, it is extremely even with little separating the top five horses. Ocean Park has the best WFA form in this race and has ticked all the boxes required to win this race.
Proisir is the second elect for me and I think he shows the most credentials among the three year olds. Carrying no weight, he’ll have a lovely run in the race with the Waterhouse stable mates all working together. With the vets clearing Southern Speed of any physical problems, we can forgive her last run and she’s very capable of running third.
I’ll throw Rekindled Interest in for fourth simply because he can’t be ignored in this race but has very average form compared against the rest of the field.
1. Ocean Park
3. Southern Speed
4. Rekindled Interest
The Cox Plate will be run at 5.15pm and will be televised on Channel 9, Sky Racing and TVN.
Preview and tips have been provided by Alfred Chan who can be found on Twitter @AlfredC91.
- Horse Racing