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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. 


Howmuchdoyouloveme - A class act

There is no doubting the ability of Howmuchdoyouloveme, he scorched over the 1100 metres of the Perri Cutten Caulfield Sprint in  a breeze.

He is brilliant, first out of the gate, and never headed thereafter, the closest the opposition got to him was when they were pulling up.

His record has now been extended to five wins from six starts, and even at this early stage he looks an ideal prospect for the Oakleigh Plate early in the New Year.

Once betting opened he was the one punters wanted, some big bets were laid about him, there was no concern, he had the race to himself all the way, he was untroubled in winning.

The win was a big occasion for Rosehill trainer, Con Karakatsanis, who described the gelding as bomb proof; he hasn’t raced since winning the Ramornie Handicap at Grafton 10 weeks ago.

Depending how he pulls up, he could go on to Flemington for a 1200 metres race, down the straight six, during the carnival.

Howmuchdoyouloveme is by Written Tycoon,  at the time he was conceived the sire stood for a rather meagre fee at Eliza Park Victoria , he has since earned his stripes siring several winners and has since been located to Eliza Park Queensland, commanding a fee of $15,000.  

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Dunaden Penalty 1KG

Racing Victoria’s Chief Handicapper, Greg Carpenter, has penalised Dunaden 1kg for winning the Caulfield Cup, taking his weight to 59kg for the Melbourne Cup.

The handicapper had no option but to issue the penalty, which is a fair one, he has taken many factors into consideration before reaching his decision.

Dunaden won the Caulfield Cup well with 58kg; it is fair to say he earned the extra 1kg, that shouldn’t make the difference between winning and losing.

I would say the handicapper has been kind to Dunaden, the horse is not overburdened by any means, and he is in the Melbourne Cup with a real live chance.

A win would elevate him into an elite bracket, the highest winning weight carried since Rain Lover’s second Cup win in 1969, carrying 60.5kg.


Race names need some attention

We recognise that race clubs will always be in need of sponsorship, it has become almost an essential as clubs strive to increase prize money and balance their budgets.

In return sponsors have the right to market their products through the naming of races, in the majority of instances it has worked quite well.

There doesn’t appear to be any problems with the city race clubs, the same cannot be said for some of the provincial clubs, they could be more discreet in the naming of races.

Cranbourne, on Thursday last, was a perfect example of poor naming of a race, Sheree, Will You Marry Me ?   This rxample does nothing to enhance the image of the racing industry; we can do without that sort of nonsense.  

Scratching Of Philippi

There is nothing amiss with Philippi, a late scratching from the Norman Robinson Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday.

The colt has gone to the paddock, he will complete a spell of  five weeks before he begins his preparation leading into the autumn, the prime target being the Australian Guineas.

Michael Kent never had any intention of running Philippi in the Derby; he is too smart for that, starting an immature three year old over 2500 metres on one preparation would have been too much for the colt.

Of what we have seen to date Philippi, by Host, is potentially the most promising three year old seen out this season, the autumn could be his oyster. 


Dunaden’s Cup Win

The superlatives were flowing at Caulfield

Dunaden proved, beyond question, he is among the best stayers seen in at least a decade, with an outstanding performance in winning the Caulfield Cup, coming from near last at the 800 metres, with 58 kg, the same weight as Northerly carried a decade ago.

Touted as the best field in the modern era of the Caulfield Cup, the French bred stayer looked the real deal, with Americain, in the pre post parade.

Dunaden won the Melbourne Cup last year, then coming back to win the Caulfield Cup the same as View just a few short years ago.

The French bred stayer drew the absolute outside barrier, inside of him was the favourite, Glencadam Gold, who continued to shorten from his opening quote.

The Cup had been perfectly scripted, with Glencadam Gold beginning well as expected and being eased across the face of the field by Jim Cassidy towards the rails, while Craig Williams was content to allow Dunaden to find his feet at the rear of the field.

Voila Ici also began well settling down in second place, but no closer than a length and a half behind the favourite at any stage, Michael Rodd had December Draw well placed in the box seat, looking a big chance for most of the trip until the pressure was applied before the turn, he wilted from there on, failing to stay.

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Dunaden about to claim Alcopop in the Caulfield Cup

Dunaden made a long searching run, that saw him circle the entire field to get a crack at the leaders, by this time Alcopop came down the centre of the track, he was being the hailed the winner until Dunaden appeared on the scene.

The Cup was a cleanly run race, there were no hard luck stories, every horse had its chance, the winner proved far too good for those that finished behind him in the Caulfield Cup, there would be no difference if they meet again in the Melbourne Cup, with the exception of Americain, he battled on well and Lights Of Heaven cannot be discarded entirely.

Whilst Dunaden is among the finest stayers seen in this part of the globe his winning strike is nothing out of the ordinary, 10 wins from 34 starts, certainly he has won the races that count.

In his defence much of his European racing has involved small fields, which are often run at a snail’s pace, with stop and go tactics, that doesn’t suit a genuine stayer of Dunaden’s calibre.

Dunaden is sure to receive a penalty now for the Melbourne Cup, which will be announced within a few days by handicapper Greg Carpenter; he is assured of the number one saddle cloth in the Cup on Tuesday fortnight.

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Craig Williams with the Cup



Win Overcome By Emotion

 An emotional Peter Gelagotis still grieving over the passing of his father, Michael, earlier in the week, found the success of Hvasstan in the Norman Robinson Stakes secondry.

Hvasstan is raced by a syndicate with the Gelgotis family from Moe heavily involved, brother Manny bought the colt for $260,000, Peter is trainer and their late father, Michael, was proud to join his sons in the partnership to race, what has now become a genuine Derby aspirant.

The winner proved the better colt on the day, whilst it was a slogging finish, with little between the three placegetters; a humping duel at the top of the straight had no influence on the result, the better stayer won.

Punters were prepared to follow the Gai Waterhouse lead supporting Kabayan, he remained favourite throughout betting, easing slightly from his opening quote to finish at $3.10.

He was prominent for much of the trip in third place, when Nash Rawiller called upon him the intestinal fortitude was not there, he punctured noticeably.

The quality of our potentially staying three olds is beginning to wear a bit thin; there is not a lot of depth here at present, with Sydney not looking much better.

It’s A Dundeel, the unbeaten New Zealander, looks head and shoulders above the locals, his win in the Gloaming Stakes was full of merit, he appeals as the genuine stayer, with a stayer’s pedigree.

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Hvasstan on the rails - Ridden by Glen Boss



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