Article by Kylie Johnson
First run in 1922 (won by English Raider- Violoncello), theÂ Cox Plate is the second richest weight-for-age (horses carry a set weight in accordance to its age, gender, race distance and the month of the year) race behind the Queen Elizabeth Stakes. This particular race is for horses who are three years and older, run over a distance of 2040m (or in racing terminology- 10 furlongs, remembering that a furlong is 200 metres) and for a prize pool of $3 million. Usually the field for this race consists of the best of the best in Australasia and in recent times the World (who come over in the hopes of taking home some of our best races)
Like most of our iconic races in Australia, the Cox Plate is no different, the race is named in honour of William Samuel Cox (W.S)Â (founder of the Moonee Valley Racing Club in 1883). The Cox family were inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2006 for their contributions to the sport, contributions of close to 120 years. The honour roll for this name lists some of racings champions and immortals of the turf. Names such as Makybe Diva, Might and Power, Saintly, Phar Lap, Tulloch, Kingston Town, Letâ€™s Elope, Sunline, Shamus Award and of course Winx.
Rising Fast in 1954 is the only horse to date that has won the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup in the same year. Only six horses have won the Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup in the same year: Makybe Diva, Might and Power, Saintly, Nightmarch, Phar Lap and Rising Fast. In 1995 Octagonal became the first 3 year old to win the race and no 3 year old then won until 2004 which saw Savabeel take the plate. In 2013, Shamus Award spectacularly gained a large following after he gained his first ever race start in the field after the scratching of favourite Atlantic Jewel- going on to win the race as the first eve maiden.
In 2017, betting agency Ladbrokes will now take over sponsorship of the Cox Plate carnival in an 8 year deal that begun back in August, replacing previous sponsor William Hill.
Prize Money Break Down
So just how is that $3 million dollar prize pool divided?
1st– $1.8 million with $50,000 in trophies to connections
6th, 7th, 8th– $100,000
Weight for Age Conditions
3 year old Colts & Geldings (boys) – 49.5 kg
3 year old Filly (girls) – 47.5 kg
4 year old Entires & Geldings â€“ 57.5 kg
4 year old Mare- 55.5 kg
5 year old/Up Entire & Geldings â€“ 59kg
5 year old/Up Mares- 57 kg
Ever since the first running of the plate, the field capacity has always been 14 of the best weight for age horses (with 4 emergencies). First nominations were released on the 8th August, on Saturday the history books will be rewritten as Australiaâ€™s Queen of the Turf in Winx will only have 8 competitors who will be looking to break the winning streak of the champion Mare.
- Happy Clapper – Barrier 9 (Trainer: Patrick Webster Jockey: Damian Oliver) 2 starts ago finally won the Group 1 Epsom Handicap at Royal Randwick
- Gailo ChopÂ – Barrier 4Â (Trainer: Darren Weir, Jockey: Mark Zahra)– Last start very dominant over this distance at Caulfield betting Cup placegetter Johannes Vermeer.
- Humidor- Barrier 8 (Trainer: Darren Weir Jockey: Blake Shinn) Former Kiwi galloper that has performed well since arriving on Australian shores. Ran 5th in the Caulfield Cup and will tackle Winx with blinkers on in the hopes to settle him early in the race, back in distance from the Cup.
- KasperskyÂ – Barrier 2Â (Trainer: Jane Chapple- Hyam Jockey: Michelle Payne) Is at big odds however, has Michelle Payne on board who is infamous for getting the long odds horses first past the post.
- FolkswoodÂ – Barrier 5Â (Trainer: Charlie Appleby (Godolphin) Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy) European runner that has come across from the UK Godolphin stable and won the Cranbourne Cup on his Australia debut, second up from a spell in which his form is always good having won 2 out of 3 attempts. Has the in-form jockey of Kerrin McEvoy on board who has gone on to ride more winners since Redzel in The Everest.
- Seaburge- Barrier 1 (Trainer: David & Ben Hayes & Tom Dabernig Jockey: Regan Bagliss) At very long odds and not sure form has been good enough to be able to beat any of the competition home, will be a long way back off Winx.
- HardhamÂ – Barrier 3 (Trainer: David Brideoake Jockey: Luke Nolen) Won at Group 2 level back in March, has not been around the valley before and will be wearing blinkers. Drops in distance for his first attempt at weight-for-age, class is the question.
- Â WinxÂ – Barrier 6Â (Trainer: Chris Waller Jockey: Hugh Bowman) unlikely that she will finish anywhere but first, question is by how many lengths will she break their hearts.
- Royal Symphony- Barrier 7Â (Trainer: Tony McEvoy Jockey: Dean Yendall) The 3 year old of the field, a lot of hype on him however recent form is only 2 wins from 20 starts, doubt has the class just as yet to beat Winx but will develop into a star of the future.
Â Will History be repeated?
Should the mighty mare make it 3 Cox Plateâ€™s in a row- her name will be etched alongside one of the greatest race horses to ever grace our turf- Kingston Town. He is the only horse to have won the plate 3 consecutive years in 1980, 1981 and 1982.
Quite possible that if she is in front with 100m to go and far enough in front of her rivals, it is guaranteed that the roar from the crowd that will pack into Moonee Valley to watch the champ will be heard from many suburbs away.
Sydney will sure be behind our darling and the rest of Australia will watch on as the Winx continues to rewrite the history books- question still remains, will she or even can she be beaten?
Thoroughbred Events Australia wishes all horses and connections the best for Saturday and we will be cheering on Winx (click here to read our interview with the champion mare).