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Who will be excluded from the 2013 Cox Plate?

Expert
15th October, 2013
9
1320 Reads

The focus of the racing world is on this weekend’s Caulfield Cup, but it is Saturday week’s Cox Plate which may be the big story in the coming days.

As anticipated by The Roar last month, it is looking increasingly likely the Moonee Valley Racing Club will have to use their discretionary powers to determine the final make up of the Cox Plate field.

The field is to be decided using international and local ratings, although the committee can use their discretion to include or exclude any runner.

At last count, there were 18 potential acceptors for the Cox Plate, with the barrier draw to take place next Tuesday.

They can be separated into three groups – those that are ballot exempt, those who are almost definite acceptors, and those who are some query.

Here, we assess each of the 18 runners and the likelihood that they will be excluded from the final Cox Plate field.

Atlantic Jewel
Status: Exempt (Caulfield Stakes)

The new queen of the Australian turf, Atlantic Jewel is the hot favourite for the Cox Plate. She would have been guaranteed a run in the Cox Plate anyway, but her victory in the Caulfield Stakes last week ensured she cannot be balloted. A justified favourite.

Fiorente
Status: Exempt (Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes)

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He’s yet to win a Group 1, but his slashing last stride victory in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes in mid September was enough to see him gain ballot exemption for the Cox Plate. He is likely to be well supported on the day.

It’s A Dundeel
Status: Exempt (Australian Derby)

The Australian Derby winner missed a scheduled rematch with Atlantic Jewel last weekend after a foot abscess hindered his preparation. He should be on track for the Cox Plate, ensuring a mouthwatering clash after he got the better of Atlantic Jewel in the Underwood Stakes.

Long John
Status: Exempt (Caulfield Guineas)

Long John’s win in the Caulfield Guineas last Saturday gave him ballot exemption for the Cox Plate. With Darley confirming last night that he will definitely be lining up on Saturday week, he will force another runner on the borderline out of the race – perhaps his stablemate Guelph?

Super Cool
Status: Exempt (Australian Cup)

Super Cool hasn’t been racing at his best this preparation, but if connections decide to push on to the Cox Plate, he is guaranteed a run thanks to his Australian Cup win in the autumn.

Mull of Killough
Status: Exempt (international invite)

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Mull of Killough is guaranteed a run as an invited international, although he’s a Group 3 winner whose best performance was a fifth to Military Attack in the Singapore International Cup.

Click here to read my examination of the potential controversy surrounding the international invites last month.

Side Glance
Status: Exempt (international invite)

Just like Mull of Killough, he is an invited international and as such is exempt from ballot from the race. He is better performed than Mull of Killough though – despite only being a Group 3 winner, he has placed in the Queen Anne Stakes (third to Frankel) and the Arlington Million, as well as finishing fourth in this year’s Dubai World Cup to Animal Kingdom.

Ferlax
Status: In danger

The Australian Guineas winner, who has won a maiden, a 0-62 and a 0-68 outside the Group 1, is now targeting the Cox Plate after a change in direction.

He was originally targeting the Mackinnon Stakes a week later.

While he is a Group 1 winner, his last two performances have been poor. His rating means he is likely to be one of the first to be balloted.

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Green Moon
Status: Should be safe

The 2012 Melbourne Cup winner started favourite in the Cox Plate last year when seventh. This year, his preparation has been more disrupted.

He was scratched from the Caulfield Stakes because of an elevated temperature, so he may enter the Cox Plate underdone. That said, he should safely gain a start.

Happy Trails
Status: Should be safe

Happy Trails has won the Turnbull Stakes and the Emirates Stakes, and placed in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, since last year’s Cox Plate. His rating has spiked after last start, which should ensure that he is safely inside the field.

Masked Marvel
Status: In danger

English St Leger winner who lost his way last year. Has performed okay in weight for age contests in Australia so far, but his rating looks below what will be required to gain a start in the race.

Still, given he comes in with weight for age form, perhaps they will give more credence to his form than to those of runners stepping up from handicaps. Looks on the edge.

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Puissance de Lune
Status: Borderline

The long-time Melbourne Cup favourite has been impressive enough this preparation, although he has been slightly luckless since his first up win in the Lawrence Stakes.

He’s been second in two Group 1s, to Foreteller in the Makybe Diva and Happy Trails in the Turnbull.

His rating may have picked up just enough following the Turnbull Stakes to gain a start in the Cox Plate, but he remains a borderline case.

If only he’d managed to land either Group 1 race, he’d be much more secure. The odds are in his favour though.

Rekindled Interest
Status: In danger

It may seem weird that a Cox Plate placegetter may be in trouble of making the field two years later, but that looks a distinct possibility.

He has not won since the 2011 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes, and he has not been competitive at the highest level since the autumn of 2012.

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His rating has dropped significantly, enough to suggest he may not make the field.

Sea Moon
Status: Should be safe

After his victory in last weekend’s Herbert Power Stakes, Sea Moon is now heading for the Cox Plate as his final preparation for the Melbourne Cup.

Based on his international rating, he deserves his spot in the Cox Plate, even if he has not raced to his peak in Australia to date.

While he may not be a winning chance at Moonee Valley, he should make the final field.

Seville
Status: In danger

He’s now a Group 1 winner after his win in The Metropolitan, but his rating had dropped prior to that win which may see him struggle to gain a start.

He may be better placed heading to the Moonee Valley Cup, unless there is significant attrition.

Guelph
Status: Doubtful, questionable if she gets a run

Guelph runs in today’s Thousand Guineas, for which she is a $1.40 favourite. She should win with ease, posting her fourth Group 1 victory after wins in the ATC Sires Produce Stakes, the Champagne Stkes and the Flight Stakes.

The question remains – will she run in the Cox Plate? It seems highly unlikely after confirmation came through late yesterday Long John will take his place. And even if they did want to run, her international rating may mean she is among those in trouble of gaining a start.

The Moonee Valley Racing Club would be likely to use their discretionary powers to have her line-up, but it remains highly unlikely Darley will want to run.

Foreteller
Status: Doubtful, should be safe

A decision on a Cox Plate start for Foreteller will be made after he gallops at the Breakfast with the Best trackwork session next Tuesday morning. There seems no doubt he’s targeting the Mackinnon Stakes, but whether he runs in the Cox Plate too remains to be seen.

As a two time Group 1 winner in the Ranvet Stakes and the Makybe Diva Stakes, as well as a last start second in the Caulfield Stakes to Atlantic Jewel, Foreteller should be safely ensconced inside the field if he is paid up.

Sacred Falls
Status: Doubtful, borderline

The Doncaster Mile winner has been slightly disappointing this preparation, resuming with a good fourth in the Tramway before two lacklustre runs in the George Main Stakes and the Epsom Handicap. The Cox Plate has been the target all preparation, and while a final decision hasn’t been made as to whether he will head there, if he is an acceptor he is likely to be safely inside the field.

So, who will make the final field?
If all 18 of the above runners were to accept for the Cox Plate, I believe the four to miss out would be Ferlax, Masked Marvel, Rekindled Interest and Seville. Puissance de Lune and Sacred Falls are others who would be borderline if all 18 were to accept.

That said, Guelph looks unlikely, while Foreteller, Sacred Falls and Super Cool all remain queries.

There is also a slight possibility that a horse like Hawkspur could back up if he was to win the Caulfield Cup impressively.

Who would make your final 14?

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