Almanac Racing: Sal’s Preview – Cox Plate Preview: When the Whip Comes Down


Greetings All,


What a great race the Caulfield Cup was!  Run at a genuine tempo with all runners getting their chance.  However did Mark Zahra’s breach of the whip rule give the winner the advantage to be the first across the line?  The stewards didn’t think so however were duly concerned dishing out a $50,000 fine and seven meeting suspension.  That all sounds hefty but not that much of a deterrent the offending hoop will not miss a major meeting.  This breach occurs regularly but just gets amplified with the profile of the race.  Terry Henderson has indicated he will have no issue firing in a protest in races where his horses are narrowly defeated where the rules have been breached.  It is all subjective for the stewards to determine what margin an extra hit will make which will make it hard to adjudicate the difference in a race to uphold a protest.  But they make those subjective decisions every day with regard to protests for interference – not sure it should be any different for excessive whip use.  Just start enforcing well before the major carnivals.  The other impact of excessive whip use is that Frankie Dettori will not be riding at Flemington due to his transgression on Champions Day at Ascot.


Onto this week and we have the day and night carnival at the Valley with the Cox Plate as the highlight.  We kick off Friday night with the Moonee Valley Cup as the feature and the Manikato shifted to the Saturday, probably the right move but does take a bit of gloss from the Friday Night Program.  Up north Randwick hosts the Spring Champion Stakes which could be an important prelude to the Derby although will be the Grand Final for a few.



Friday Night Lights


Only a couple of group races on the night, a couple to look at early in the program.  Croatian Belle (R1, #3) has won both her starts here, could this be the night for Umgawa (R2, #3)?  Warming to Kooled (R3, #2) while the undefeated Frilled (R4, #6) hard to beat but has come up very short,  As had She Dances (R5, #3) Linda Meech rides her beautifully, but can’t see why Ranting (R5, #5) can’t repeat his last performance.


Race 6 – JRA Cup (G3, 2040m, HCP)


Is Forgot You (3) the forgotten horse?  Drops back from Group 1 level and is a winner over this journey.  As isAin’tnodeeldun (5) who beat Forgot You (3) last start just slightly worse off at the weights here.  Red Sun Sensation (8) is consistent and gets a big weight drop and C Williams while Brayden Star (6) drops back in grade and distance.


Selections – 3-5-8-6


Race 7 – Moonee Valley Cup (G2, 2500m, SWP)


This race can produce the odd upset but reckon the winner comes from the top of the market.  In 2021 Lunar Flare (14) was one of those upsets, in 2023 she is favourite.  Going with her ahead of Vow and Declare (3) purely around barrier draw.  He should get his favoured good surface and is going well.  Future History (7) rises in weight but in form after winning the Bart.  Their main threats are motivation – they are all safely in the Melbourne Cup but plenty of the others are looking to secure their spot.  Two of those are Athabascan (4) and Interpretation (13) where a win might get a penalty and bump them up the pecking order.


Selections – 14-3-7-4-13


Rambler Rebel (R8, #5) should ensure a good tempo in the last and allow Sirius Black (4) weave some magic to win the last.





Prefer the Valley record of Unflinching (R1, #3) over the favourite in the opener on day 2, then time for a sanga while the babies run in the raffle that is race 2.


Race 3 – Tesio Stakes (G3, 1600m, Mares HCP)


Wishlor Lass (2) beat a better field than this last start, first trip around the Valley the only concern as it will be for others.  Trained by Gai, to be ridden by Linda suggests that Soul Choice (5) will set the pace and could be hard to get past.  En Francais (4) comes back to mares’ grade after a great effort in the Murray Bridge Cup and Thalassophile (1) is very consistent and gets JMac.


Selections – 2-5-4-1


Letting Inhibitions (R4, #3) run wild now that she gets back to Moonee Valley.


Race 5 – Chrystal Mile (G2, 1600m, WFA)


Antino (4) was magnificent in the Toorak to run second from a wide alley, steps up to WFA but looks up to it.  The original plans for Prowess (6) was to run WFA but an extra 440m, but a few things went wrong.  Roger James doesn’t cross the ditch for a holiday!  Tuvalu (1) will be very competitive here and Just Folk (3) takes the step up in class but likes the course.


Selections – 4-6-1-3


Race 6 – Fillies Classic (G2, 1600m, Fillies SW)


We have an undefeated favourite here in Skybird (8), the wins looked great but came from a long way back and in the bush.  She might just be a ripper, but reckon this is much more open.  Aprilla (2) has been consistent and looks to working to a win, like the engagement of D Oliver.  Two lengths off Arctic Glamour is good form for this and we know how well Mahe-Eustace place their horses so giving Broadcaster (10) a chance.  Things did not go perfectly for Poifect (9) last start after a good effort the prior, that previous effort sees her right in this.  Still could have missed them all.


Selections – 2-10-9-8


Race 7 – The Vase (G2, 2040m, 3YO SW)


Robbie Griffiths has been patient but reckon he has a derby horse in Verdad (3), has been running well and gets out to a trip that should suit.  Andrew Gluyas is making a Melbourne assault with Air Assault (2) who was a strong winner of the Hill-Smith in Adelaide and looks the main threat.  Apulia (4) was OK last week but would appreciate more speed in his races and Sunsource (1) has been running consistently but needs to tick off the 2000m.


Selections – 3-2-4-1


Race 8 – Manikato Stakes (G1, 1200m, WFA)


The main concern about Imperatriz (6) this week is Riff Rocket last week.  If a $1.28 pop goes under then she is longer!  The main threat is that they will all be out to beat here and the small field could make it quite a tactical affair although Jigsaw (4) usually sets a good tempo for all the pieces to fall into place.  It should set up for Uncommon James (3) and I am Me (7) to have the sit and take over and try to hold out the favourite.  Doubt they will and could even be passed by Buenos Noches (2)


Selections – 6-7-2-3


Race 9 – WS Cox Plate (G, 2040m, WFA)


Might not be the greatest renewal of the race but it does not lack for intrigue.  Each runner is there on its merits but each them have question marks.


Romantic Warrior (1) – Didn’t match the spruik at Flemington and trainer says he is only 95% fit.  JMac is bullish and happy with him around the Valley, but that goes a step up in this race.  Overall thought 4th in that Turnbull will be good form and is top selection.


Zaaki (2) – Suspect his time has passed will be good to ensure some pace in the race, outside barrier no help either.  Too much going against him here.


Mr Brightside (3) – Should get the run of the race from three and loves the Valley.  Can he get the 2040?  Unplaced from two attempts so plenty of doubts.  A chance but would need the perfect run and ride – a couple of mm rain would help.


Alligator Blood (4) – Ticked off the 2000m in the Caulfield Stakes.  Most of his opposition last two were cups bound rather then here aside from Duais.  Will provide tempo for the race and would be a very popular win, but doubt he can hold on.


Gold Trip (5) – An iron horse who ran here last year after the Caulfield Cup, this year’s CC was run at much faster tempo.  Will it have taken the edge off?  Happy to leave that decision to Ciaran and Dave.  Doubt he runs if it gets to Good-3 but if does a real threat.


My Oberon (6) – Astonishing Australian debut in the Chrystal Mile last year and his last win and good last start but the two in front then are here also.  One try at 2000m unplaced.  Extends the losing streak.


Pinstriped (7) – Got the ticket in through the Feehan and beat an in form field.  Unbeaten here but untried at the journey.  Looks beyond him.


Fangirl (8) – When everything goes right she wins as we saw in The Chuck.  She gets plenty of that right stuff here with the likely firm track plus the services of Zac Purton. First trip to the Valley and first try at 2000m, can win if she handles all that.


Duais (9) – Ollie’s last ride in a Cox Plate.  3rd to Alligator Blood in the Caulfield Stakes has merit but has not won for over 500 days.  Not the profile of a Cox Plate winner.


Victoria Road (10) – The mystery horse of the race.  Had a very good 2yo season winning the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile and a handy couple of efforts since.  Described as similar to Adelaide should make him a big chance.  A key difference though is the pilot Ryan Moore came to ride Adelaide but has not come this time.  Could be other reasons but suspect this is being driven as much by the owners as it is by Aidan O’Brien.


Militarize (11) – 3YO have a great record in Cox Plates and win them when it seems as open affair.  Yet to cover 2000m but pedigree suggests that will not be an issue.  Zac Lloyd has been outstanding in the saddle however this will only second ride at Moonee Valley after having one in the MV Cup.  That is of some concern but this colt might just take him there.


King Colorado (12) – Do they just use the weight?  He sat three wide on pace in the Guineas and stuck, could give them something to catch.


Taking JMac on his word along with the witness who said Romantic Warrior (1) scooted around the course with no issues, his fourth in the Turnbull was very good despite higher expectations.  His conqueror that day appears his biggest challenge, Gold Trip (5) was brilliant in the Turnbull and the handicapper got him last week.  Militarize (11) is the one that might have them both with the light weight.  Tough to choose the last hole, especially with so many suspect at the trip so going Alligator Blood (4) to hold out.


Selections – 1-5-11-4-12-8


It will be that time by Race 10 so we will close with one at each way odds Loose on Gin (R10, #6) but a couple more in the quaddie.


Short and sweet for Sydney with Tom Kitten (SR7, #2) to turn the table and win the Spring Champion and Gringotts (R10, #4) in the last.



Quaddie Time


We take the free hit with Imperatriz in the Manikato.


Leg 1 – 2, 3, 4

Leg 2 – 6

Leg 3 – 1, 4, 5, 11

Leg 4 – 2, 3, 6, 10


Represents 48 combinations, a $30 investment returns 62.5% of the dividend.


Here Kitty, Kitty


Cheers, Sal


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