Crio’s Racing: Cox Plate 2011

It’s the week between the Caulfield Cup and the Cox Plate.

Racing’s hype machine is in top gear. We’re the main game in town for a couple of weeks. Inevitably, talk is of last week’s combatants and their path to Flemington and of the upcoming “WFA Championship of Australasia”.

But this year there’s another level.  An even brighter star to dazzle the public.

It’s Black Caviar.

chasing 15 in a row.

and raising an unnerving link between Caulfield Cup, 15 wins in a row, Oct 19 (as I write) and

a lady in black on a hot streak.

Despite her constantly cramped odds, some big punters have continued to weigh in as the mighty mare has obliterated her opponents. That same scenario seems likely again this week, with only 4 opponents accepted, but there must come a time to “walk away” – maybe after this week’s triumph. Could 15 be the jinxed number? Carbine reached that tally in the 1890s and Bernborough had equalled “Old Jack” heading to Caulfield.

In 1946 post-WW2 racing crowds flocked to racecourses and amongst a phalanx of stars was the mighty Queenslander. “Finishing like Bernborough” became a part of Australian sporting lexicon, but he dramatically met his match, as detailed in the ABC’s wonderful “The Track” doco.

“On a Spring morning in 1946 a woman prepared for a confrontation with the Melbourne bookmakers. Johanna Pauline Taks, an Estonian immigrant, had bet on the same horse in its previous 15 races. It had won them all, and the mysterious ‘Woman in Black’ was about to risk her everything on what she, and half the nation, believed would be Bernborough’s 16th consecutive win.

On Saturday, October 19, 1946, along with the Lady in Black, 108,000 came to Caulfield to see if Bernborough could make it 16 in a row. Because he’d always seemed indifferent to weight, even his lead-lined 10 stone 10 pound handicap couldn’t deter his supporters.

There is some conflict as to the exact amount but The Lady In Black may have bet as much as 310,000 pounds on Bernborough to win the Caulfield Cup. He was knocked from pillar to post. “I was waiting for a run between two horses at the top of the straight and they come together and stopped him in his tracks”. – George Mulley (former jockey)

Bernborough finished fifth. Along with thousands of other punters stunned to silence The Lady In Black lost the lot. She said ‘now I have the big headache’ and left the track. “


The moral, I guess, other than to be prudent on the punt, is to enjoy the champions while at their peak, and I’m sure “Moody’s mare” will deliver again in the Moir before heading to the Patinack at Flemington in search of Number 16.

I’ve always loved this sprint from the first fantastic time I was lucky enough to have seen it….as the last race on the unforgettable, “Kingston Town can’t win” day (1982), when Manikato defied all-comers – especially boom young champ Rancher – to score an emotional win and reach the (then) magical million dollar mark.

Now that was a day; and I can’t expect it to be equaled, but there are high hopes for a memorable meeting at “The Saucer” with a typically wonderful card in support of a fascinating Cox Plate.

Best declare my hand here. I’ve backed Rekindled Interest and am very happy about that.  Track, distance, prep…tick, tick, tick. I rate Jimmy Choux (worry re hoop…there’s a story!) and the other good Kiwi, King’s Rose, who may be a run shy. I’ll risk Helmet and be prepared to be wrong.

But it might be a challenge for many to still be cashed up (and head up!) by race time, as the Club have again fixtured the big race to lead in to Ch9’s News – a “commercial imperative” I am told!

There are a few races where punters will be tempted to front the bar and avoid the ring as both Black Caviar ($1.02 I expect in MV5) and also Manawanui (I reckon about $1.12) in the Vase (MV4, 3yo, 2040m) look unbeatable – perhaps they could have separated these races as it will kill wagering for a long period of the day.

But they are “unmissable” viewing…get there or switch on the TV by 2pm to start your involvement.

The Gr3 1300 Australia Stakes (MR3, 1200m, 3yo, 2.05pm) should be fascinating. Peter Morgan’s topweight, Amah Rock, looked a Derby colt when he won here 2 months ago but has been off the scene since and emerges in this dash. I rate him very highly and the stable is starting to fire again. But it is a hot field. Moody/Nolen front with unbeaten Beckon (6), whilst Ollie rides the in form Miss Stellabelle (2) for Kav. Red Rain(7) will also have supporters but I expect Karuta Queen to lead them and to start fav. She famously ran second to Black Cav at Caulfield, with the owners inquiring how close they’d need to finish to be in the photo! This, needless to say, is easier and should be hers if leaders are not disadvantaged. I’ll be looking, however, for Amah Rock’s finish with an eye to the Australian Guineas next March.

Punters will resume battle in The Cup (MR6, G2, 2500m, 4pm!) and most interest will centre on last year’s Flemington star, Americain (1). The stable is too astute to not be aiming for and ready for excellence and he quite rightly leads early markets .They’ve mirrored  2010 when he went to Geelong and won, arriving on an 8 week break with a 2 run program. Interesting to note, as an aside, that a French horse again won today’s Geelong Cup en route to Flemington! The Geelong runner up, Tanby, was last run beaten by Americain’s biggest danger on Saturday, Shewan (5), which is shaping as a really good stayer. Shifty old J.B. has an entry, Illo (6), which has done its racing in Germany and is impossible to line up, except that another recent winner in Deutschland, Bauer, appears to still be right up to our staying company on today’s unlucky third. Local punters have rightly become perplexed by Linton (3), but should confidently expect Gai’s Tullamore (4) to be our best. That would probably be my bet.

Testa My Patience (MR7,G2,1600m,No9)has the credentials to justify being favorite for the old “Waterford Crystal Mile”, but I’m going to have my first bet of the day here on topweight Danleigh (16/1), especially if they are swooping, in what is annually a ripper race. Dao Dao, Triple Elegance and Luen Yat Forever are amongst a host of chances if you are brave or foolish enough to attempt a Quaddy!

The “get out” (R9, 6.20pm) is nowadays always a cracking mares race (recently the “Tesio”), won in successive years by Lady Lynette- a big chance for a “3peat”. By this stage of the day many people are directed more by what odds they need than by what chances they rate. I’m pretty keen on Cox Plate emergency, Avienus (2), which would richly deserve this consolation prize. “Throw a blanket”, as they say, over the rest. For trifecta speculators, maybe 2,4,3,1,12,6.

It’ll be nearing 7pm by the time we’ve paid out the last and there’s still the Mt. Alexander Rd mayhem to survive before I can put my feet up and reflect on Moonee Valley’s biggest day in 2011. Let’s hope the weather is fine, the racing is great and the crowds enjoy the unique theatre of Cox Plate Day. I’ll be there filling the Lillis Kilmartin bag. Good luck.




  1. Peter Flynn says

    Ripper article and preview Crio.

    Sadly Bernborough broke down in the LKS MacKinnon Stakes (next start after the Caulfield Cup?). The LKS has fallen by the wayside over the years.

  2. …he then went over to Louis B. Mayer’s Spendthrift Farm for stud duties.
    Amazing story. Controversial from the start. Disputed heritage. Embroiled in a ring in. Legal challenges re ownership.Controversy that Mulley “hooked” him. The mysterious Lady In Black. And the trademark whirlwing finish.
    Loved how we always knew the initials of the race names…W.S.Cox Plate, L.K.S.MacKinnon Stakes, C.B.Fisher Plate and so on…
    The MacKinnon was usually a mix of handicappers getting fit and some quality WFA horses chasing a good prize.It needs Southern Speed, Sincero and co to head there this year.

  3. Peter Flynn says

    Billy Briscoe (?) replaced Mulley.

    I think there is a Bernborough book. I’d like to read it sometime.

  4. Here’s the link Flynny…

  5. Peter Flynn says

    Champion Crio.


  6. If, as is being reported, Descarado is out, I am pleased for Avienus’ connections who really wanted to have another go at the big race.
    After tuesday morning Gai’s horse was unloved in betting and doomed. It does take some more pressure off the “on pacers” which will help Helmet from its tricky gate. Glass H will push up and the colt should slide across. I’ve locked in my Rekindled odds and will later have a saver on King’s Rose.

  7. Skip of Skipton says

    Kingston Town also cracked the $1 000 000 that same afternoon I believe.

    With Descarado now scratched, this is the worst W.S. Cox plate I can recall. I will be on board Efficient for the simple fact that at or near his best he would thrash this lot. If you don’t share my sentiment then I’d say get on Helmet. It’s out of an English bred Singspiel mare so it should get the trip.

  8. Skip, I’ve always respected Vase winners heading in to the Cox Plate, but it was 2007! Nevertheless he has raced at the top level. I’ll judge the quality of the field retrospectively. Helmet’s task is easier with the scratching.
    I’ll have to bow to your knowledge re The King’s million…it was an emotional day. i thought his came up elsewhere.

  9. 4,5/1,12/9,13/1,4 is my pauper’s quad.

  10. David Downer says

    Teriffic preview + history lesson Crio,

    As a 15yo, I already had a healthy interest in racing, but it was the star-studded ’92 Cox Plate that hooked me right in for good.

    We’ve been bemoaning the lack of quality all Spring, but it’s a competitive Cox Plate this year, and the race has well and truly taken its own shape over the week. I’m excited!

    With Descarado scratched, Lion Tamer going forward from the outside might dictate whether or not we get a super hot pace early

    Looking forward to the Black Caviar amphi-theatre reception as she rounds the bend. A couple of years ago the roar for Apache Cat in this race was amazing. And that was a titanic struggle up the straight. If we’re fair dinkum about being impressed today, BC should only match it if she’s about 10 in front!

  11. “titanic struggle” is an odd term isn’t it?…I recall the AAMI Vase battle between Kempinsky and Elvstroem. Breathless. Two good Colts.
    Miss all that in the betting ring.
    A good Q yesterday was put to K. McEvoy: “Is Helmet better than Viscount?”
    “Yes” was the response. Viscount was unlucky against Northerly and Sunline. Good credentials!
    I hope Lion Tamer bounces out and rips it up. Hate it when the Cox Plate is a canter for milers…my Sunline slap!

  12. The Plate was always going to be easy in retrospect. The Stocks Stakes has been the form race all Spring and Pinker Pinker looked the winner at the distance. Add that this is the season for Mares (Epsom, Caulfield etc) and that C. Williams could win on a broomstick and it is easy to conclude she was over the odds…certainly her and King’s Rose should have been similar.
    Nevertheless I’ve yet to watch a replay. Squinting at a distant screen, it seemed Helmet was cooked by the school and I though King’s Rose a monty, Rekindled the danger. Something then went awry and suddenly it was Jimmy in front with the winner closing rapidly. Good horse and good luck to them, but, as can often be the case, race it again and a different result might occur. so it goes!

  13. Dave Nadel says

    I only saw it on TV and I know a lot less about racing than you do, Chris, but from the TV it looked like a brilliant piece of riding by Craig Williams. Obviously Pinker Pinker is a pretty good mare but I am not sure that there are that many jockeys who could have found the path through the other horses that Williams found for her.

  14. Still yet to see a replay Dave, but no doubt C. Williams is red hot. He works really hard and deserves the spoils. From an industry perspective he is “good copy” – probably the most lucid of the hoops and, as a bonus, steeped in local racing bloodlines.

  15. This is Dom Beirne’s preview…maybe prescient for my punt King’s Rose.
    KING’S ROSE gets all the favours in the run and will be ridden for luck – not many Peter Moody horses aren’t kicking in at the finish and if this Cox Plate is run in a slow last 200m, she may come over the top of them late, if restrained on the rail when they’re all slogging it out along the side, as per Dane Ripper. Jockey Nolen should watch the replay, 1997 Cox Plate.

    L. Nolen said, “Not my best ride”.

    Instant decisions. C. Williams took his spot.

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