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Cox Plate Trends

2005 Cox Plate winner Makybe Diva. Photo: Quentin Lang.

Peter Ellis Racing continues its review of thoroughbreds set to contest Victoria’s major weight-for-age feature so it can assist any visitor to the website that maybe considering a ‘futures’ wager.

This week we look at the Moonee Valley Racing Club’s Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040 m) with the final round of acceptances due October 19th at 08:30am for the weight-for-age feature.

The Club first held the W. S. Cox Plate in 1922 and has since built a feature wall in its grandstand as a tribute to the deeds of some of Australia’s best racehorses including last seasons’ winner Sir Dragonet (Camelot – Sparrow) that horse delivered a custom-made gold plate to connections with the Club celebrating the 100th running.  A year after the trophy had gone to Japan for the first time when Lys Gracieux (Heart’s Cry – Liliside) strode clear under 57 kilos to defeat a three-year-old,  Northerly’s (Serheed – North Bell) back-to-back victories not forgetting Kingston Town’s (Bletchingly – Ada Hunter) treble.

The race is also remembered for the wonderful deeds of horses that gave their all earning honour in defeat Our Waverley Star (Star Way – Super Show) and Mahogany  (Last Tycoon – Alshandegha).

Just as important is the contribution from racing families.  Without their hard work, discipline, and adherence to training methods handed down through the generations along with a genuine interest in their horse’s welfare all the magic on the track doesn’t come to pass.

This spring will it be Joseph O’Brien adding his name into the record books joining his father Aidan who won the race with Adelaide (Galileo – Elletelle), or will it be the Father, Son partnership of Anthony & Sam Freedman as they look to join, brother (and Uncle) Lee who saddled up Makybe Diva (Desert King – Tugela) and Super Impose (Imposing – Pheroz Fancy) as they look to build their own record. Or will it be another thread in the Cummings family history with Bart’s grandsons Edward and James with contenders in the feature.

Team Freedman have kept last season’s Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes winner Artorius paid up with the colt’s latest effort a tough third in the Melbourne Racing Club’s Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600 m.) being evaluated.  Artorius is out of the unraced Gracie’s Lass (by Redoute’s Choice) a half-sister to the VRC Group 1 Sprint winner Delectation (by Shamardal).  The duo also has last season’s Group 1 Australian Cup hero Homesman (by War Front) among the third round of acceptors, the gelding tried hard in the Might and Power (2000 m.) and is set to run in the Caulfield Cup (2400 m.) Saturday, October 16th. Homesman is out of a three-quarter sister to Dynaformer sire of the 100th Melbourne Cup winner Americain (ex-America).

Bart learnt his skill from his father Jim and, Uncle James. He won the race five times twice with, So You Think (High Chaparral – Triassic), after victories recorded by Dane Ripper (Danehill – Red Express), Saintly (Sky Chase – All Grace) and Taj Rossi (Matrice – Dark Queen)). Edward and James benefited from their famous Grandfather and Father, Anthony’s skill, and knowledge, both will be hoping one of them can add to their family’s proud record in the weight-for-age feature.

James has the Godolphin owned MRC Group 1 Caulfield Guineas winner Anamoe (by Street Boss) in the event the three-year old is out of the Group 1 SAJC Australasian Oaks winner Anamato (by Redoute’s Choice) & is also the dam of Anamba (by Shamardal) a Listed winner in Ireland.  The grand-dam is Voltage (by Whiskey Road) in-turn the dam of the Oakleigh Plate winner Drum (by Marauding) and stakes placed Tambour (by Marauding) a proven producer that includes the champion Grand Armee (by Hennessy).

As of October 17th, James has Colette (ex-Libretto) in the race with the Stewards reporting this mare has suffered a set-back with a painful hoof abscess placing the program in doubt.

Edward has kept last seasons’ Queensland Oaks winner Duais (ex Meerlus) in the race by the 2013 Cox Plate winner Shamus Award the four-year-old recently added the Group 3 Coongy Cup to her connection’s trophy cabinet and is due to race in the Caulfield Cup (2400 m.) too.

2016 Cox Plate winner Winx. Image: Racing Photos, Pat Scala.

A trainer set to saddle-up runners, without a racing family history, is Annabel Neasham who has Zaaki and Mo’unga.   Zaaki currently owns a record of nine wins and as many placings from 29-starts the gelding hails from a female family that’s delivered plenty of black type.  Many of those stakes’ winners’ names are not familiar with racegoers in the southern hemisphere from races held in France, Germany, England, America, Italy and Japan. The seven-year-old is by the deceased Leroidesanimaux (by Candy Stripes) a multiple Grade 1 winner and sire of Warrnambool Cup victor Le Don De Vie (ex-Leaderene) and the UAE Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom (ex-Dalicia).

Neasham has kept the ATC Group 1 Winx, Rosehill & Randwick Guineas winner Mo’unga in the third stage of acceptors a four-year-old horse by the Cox Plate winner Savabeel (by Zabeel) out of Chandelier (by O’Reilly) a maiden winner that also collected a valuable Group 3 placing in New Zealand.  This female family is proven and has produced several stakes winners the Group 1 Auckland Cup winner Chenille (by Pentire).

Joseph O’Brien has the American Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational Stakes (1850 m.) winner State Of Rest paid up for connections. A four-year-old by dual hemisphere Group 1 winner Starspangledbanner out of the unraced Repose (by Quiet American) in-turn a half-sister to two English Listed winners.  Such is the world of breeding this female line does feature Australian blood with Alverta (by Flying Spur), winner of the Group 1 Coolmore Stakes, Aerobatics (Exceed & Excel), Group 3 Northwood Plume Stakes and the Group 1 Metropolitan winner Glencadam Gold (by Refuse to Bend) all appearing on a page too.

Or can Chris Waller add another Cox Plate to his quartet of plates won by champion mare Winx (Street Cry – Vegas Showgirl) with his main contenders being last season’s Horse of the Year Verry Elleegant, winner of 14 races nine at the highest level, and Hungry Heart a dual group one winning three-year-old.

Verry Elleegant, a six-year-old, will need to be as good as Winx with that mare winning the race as at four, five, six and seven-year-old, Makybe Diva won the race as a mature six-year-old in 2005 on route to creating history at Flemington with a third win the Melbourne Cup.  Sunline (Desert Sun – Songline) was defeated when six-years-old after winning back-to-back Cox Plates.

Verry Elleegant  is out Opulence (by Danroad) a winner of two races and the dam of the stakes placed Verry Flash (by Zed).  Down the page is Chalet Girl (by Imposing) an unraced half-sister to Danewin and Commands being out of Cotehele House (by My Swanee). This is a branch of one of the best families in New Zealand providing many class gallopers including Octagonal (by Zabeel) a Cox Plate winning three-year-old.

Waller’s other main contender is Hungry Heart winner of the Group 1 Australian Oaks and the Storm Queen Stakes, a chestnut that’s out of a half-sister to an English Group 3 winner.  Another with several stakes winners down that page that are not familiar to Australian racing fans with those black type wins in Italy and America. By the champion Frankel (ex-Kind), 14-starts to never get headed earning connections more than £2.9m. Now standing at stud covering mares for a fee of £175,000 with six-crops racing and 20 Group-1 winners that include this year’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth and Epsom Derby hero Adayar (ex-Anna Salai).

The best of luck to all participants with third round acceptors as they anxiously wait to see if they get a chance to add their name into the history books of the Cox Plate.

Very Elleegant withstands late charge from star English galloper Addeybb in the 2021 Ranvet Stakes. Image: Grant Guy,