The Roar
The Roar



With decisions like these, no wonder Australia's weight-for-age standards are a laughing stock

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Roar Rookie
18th October, 2022

First, a disclaimer: Moonee Valley Racing Club (MVRC) has many problems – crowd numbers reminiscent of COVID lockdowns, a track that is so underperforming it’s considered by many to be Victoria’s worst, and annual losses from racing that are minimised only by poker machine and property development cash injections.

But is its biggest problem a lack of principle or integrity in its decision-making?

In big bold letters its Cox Plate conditions of entry spell out that the committee “may in its absolute and unfettered discretion” reject any horse for whatever reason.

In years past that discretion was used to reject entries it deemed not worthy of a place in a race “where champions become legends”.

Perhaps the most notable benchmark was set 30 years ago when the MVRC vigorously defended its decision to eject Cole Diesel from the Cox Plate field because it wasn’t up to weight-for-age standard. This was a horse that had won its previous two Group 1 starts in the Toorak Handicap and Caulfield Cup. It had also won a WFA Group 2 and two WFA Group 3s in the months prior.

Yet it was still rejected for not being up to WFA standard.

I can completely understand the club wanting to protect and maintain the status of the race locally and internationally. They have to set a benchmark. That’s what protects its status as “one the most prestigious races in the word”, according to MVRC CEO Michael Browell. That is the principal at work here.

But the thing about principles is that they have to be stuck by, otherwise they’re just whims.


I could cite international comparisons, but I’ll save time. Let’s fast-forward to Cox Plate 2022. Remember, winning a Caulfield Cup, Toorak Handicap and three other WFA races in the same year is not up to ‘standard’. It is the MVRC ‘principle’ (benchmark).

When five horses that have collectively had 55 starts without a win are accepted into the 2022 Cox Plate, then those standards have been shredded. When two of those horses competed in and couldn’t win the Caulfield Cup or Toorak Handicap – both poor editions by rating standards, the ‘principles’ have not only been shredded, they’ve been trashed.

That three of these five horses haven’t won any races in over 12 months and the other two haven’t won in two years – well, we now know that MVRC Cox Plate conditions of entry are nothing more than whims rather than principles.

No wonder Verry Elleegant got laughed out of the Arc De Triomphe. No wonder Australia’s WFA racing is a laughing stock.