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Sportingbet Cox Plate

Since its inception, back in 1922, the Cox Plate has been acknowledged as the premier weight for age race.

The mere mention of the name conjures up thoughts of the greatest weight for age contest, the assembly of the very best horses from all corners of the Southern Hemisphere, and beyond.

 The inception of the event in 1922, which was five years after the inaugural Moonee Valley Racing committee, the race was originally named the W S Cox Plate after the founder of Moonee Valley, William Samuel Cox.

The stake was set at 1,000 pounds ($2,000), the imported Violoncello defeated a field of 13, during that time, known as the golden twenties, the fields were greatly reduced in that decade, with no more than a handful of runners contesting the race.

It could have easily become a non event, except for the champions of that era Manfred, Heroic and Amounis, they were all great horses that attracted people to racecourses.

The stake money remained the same when Phar Lap won in 1930; he won again the following year to become the first horse to win the race twice, returning home the poorer, the stake had been reduced to 650 pounds ($1,300) due to the depression which hit the world hard in the thirties.

 Whilst there was a steady rise in stake money after World War 11, it took a long time to reach a five digit figure, when Sir Dane won, ridden by Roy Higgins in 1964, the prize was $10,000..

For the first time the Moonee Valley Racing Club offered a six digit figure sum of $125,000 in 1975, the winner was Fury’s Order, after the race was run the remainder of the meeting was abandoned due to the state of the track.

History was made in 1946 when the race was divided, Flight won the first division, and Leonard the second, prize money for each division was 1,150 pounds, ($2.300) plus two gold cups, the next year it was returned to the original stake.

Harold Badger, who had won the race previously on Ajax, was out of luck in the two divisions, finishing second on Star Act and Monmouth, he later won on the three year olds, Chanak and Carbon Copy.    

Several horses have won the Cox Plate twice, Phar Lap the first, followed by Chatham, Young Idea, Beau Vite, Tranquil Star, Flight, Hydrogen, Tobin Bronze, Sunline, Northerly, Fields Of Omagh, So You Think, while Kingston Town won the coveted prize three times.

The late Tommy Smith holds the training record, having had 37 starters for seven wins, while Bart Cummings, 38 starters for 5 wins.

Darby Munro, widely acclaimed the best jockey we have seen in this part of the world, won the race 5 times; it could have been 6, except he was under suspension when Hydrogen won his second Cox Plate. 

The race now rivals the Prix De L’Arc Triomphe, with its stake of $3million, it has come a long way in those 90 years and is now  firmly implanted on the world stage.

 The Cox Plate can be likened to good wine, it just improves with time. 


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