Crio’s Racing: Cox Plate

Expensive experts exhort pyrotechnics, parades, Braithwaite, bands, celebrities and sideshows, but the secret to the success of the Cox Plate has always been about getting fine thoroughbred horses inside the bowl at Moonee Ponds where they are then exposed to pressure unlike that of any other race in Australia. Don’t worry about those contenders who’ve unfortunately fallen by the wayside; “at the school” the jockeys, horses and the fortunate fans in the amphitheatre will raise a notch as the “acid” is applied. Invariably it creates drama and a deserved winner.

Some lustre has undeniably been lost with the scratching of Atlantic Jewel, the setback to It’s a Dundeel and the perceived form fade of Puissance de Lune, but there’s still plenty of fascinating possibilities for those looking to snare a winner – not least the conundrum of attempting to “get out” on the 18th race in 24hrs on a track which usually holds rain but develops irresistible “patterns”. It is little help when a tipster implores enthusiasts to WAIT!…but it is the only sensible ploy. See how the track and your budget are playing and make a call at about 5.30 Saturday afternoon.

The prologue is unusual and challenging, with the Manikato Stakes being held on the Friday night of the “Carnival” and, in my opinion, the effect being a dilution of Saturday’s offering. We’ve now got a patchwork quilt of quality and fluff, whereas the best 8 would make a bonanza card, reminiscent of those which thrust Cox Plate Day to the top of many racegoers’ favourites list. Take up the challenge…even reluctantly push it out to 9

1- Maybe a 2yo (or bring back the Hiskens!)
2- The G2 3yo Mile
3- The G3 1200m
4- The Vase
5- The Cup
6- G2 Mile
7- G1 Sprint
8- Plate
9- Mares
What we’ve ended up with is not up to scratch, though I’m sure it will still be a fantastic festival.

Friday night opens with a 3000m marathon followed by a novelty race for Greys – both OK but not setting the bar high enough. This is not meant to deride the meeting, with some really good races soon to follow – the G2 Classic (MR3, 1600m, 7:15pm) and the Crockett Stakes (MR4, Listed, 1200m, 7:45pm) – but we unfortunately must wait until 10pm for the outstanding G1 Manikato (MR8, 1200m, WFA). Samaready is a gun and Arinosa must be the value.

Saturday we’ll be back early for 10 races “padded” to stretch until the Ch7 News.

The day begins with a restricted 2yo and then some nondescript Handicaps before the first of the traditional drawcards – MR5, Vase, 2040m, 3yo, set weights. This is usually a ripper contest and a stepping stone for higher honours – Super Cool beat It’s a Dundeel last year. My best remembered Vase is the battle between Kempinsky and Elvstroem a decade ago, but Helenus, Whobegotyou and Rekindled Interest are other names etched on the Vase and in my mind. Savvy Nature (1) will be 6/4 and should beat a smallish field. 2 and 3 have claims.

Hawkes’ Not Listenin’tome looks like being the shortie of the day, quoted 6/4on for the G3 1200m 3yo (MR6, SWP). Seems very skinny. Must be pretty good. Happy to find one to take it on.

The Quaddy eventually starts with the old Moonee Valley Cup (MR7, G2, 2500m, SWP), by which time the racing pattern should be evident. Smallish field and likely dawdling pace – maybe Mourinho.

In the WFA Mile (MR8, 1600m, G2, WFA) Toydini is the obvious benchmark in another small, but high quality, contest.

I remember the Moir as being the last race for many years but more recently Lady Lynette saluted in successive editions of the Mares Hcp (G3, 1600m), a top class and challenging get out for punters. Now it is Race 9, still a beauty, but simply a prelude to the rich WFA Plate to follow (MR10, 2040m, WFA). I might try the 6 in to 3 and 12 as a dramatic running double to salve the brain, the bones and the budget after a frantic 24 hours “on the bag”.
Racing’s taken some big shots this season, even this week enduring the retirement of the next banner girl, multiple suspensions of jockeys and controversy over track conditions and schedules. But the Cox Plate always manages to rise above trifling matters and produce “one for the ages”.

Punters will need patience to prosper – and tips from our canny contributors.

Good luck!


  1. Happt trails for the plate

  2. cowshedend says

    Sat up doing vids last night,and nearly nodded off looking at the first 4, surely some of the worst racing on a feature day i’ve seen.
    2yo unraced first followed by 2 awful sprints and an afterthought 10 furlong race. How many times can the Gelagotis brothers go to the well with Hvasston, i reckon the horse must have slept in the float for the last 12 months.
    Crio, that Elvstoem, Kempinsky race was a beauty, the regally bred Kempinsky, finished the Derby off with a broken bone in its leg and still finished 2nd.

  3. Is the push for Not Listenin’tome justified?

  4. cowshedend says

    At 4/7 on reckon it’ll go round without any of mine, bit of speed from the inside from Red Magnet will give the fave something to chase down

  5. Always a great day, mate, but hard not to feel that this year’s offering is not the best buffet.

  6. cowshedend says

    Yeh mate,very underwhelming, did you happen to see Guy Walters’ Oaks horse Zanbagh win at Ballarat today, impressive

  7. Lake Sententia is my best for Plate day with the proviso that you can run on by then. A
    Beware Green Moon in the big one. Was fave in this last year and will be $20 this year- same horse hasn’t done a lot wrong in the interim. For the preservation of the race’s reputation, It’s A Dundeel should win, but is it fit enough?

  8. cowshedend says

    Have even looked at exotics in the cox,and made it harder, even ended up finding a reason why Side Glance could finish in the first 4, nice gate, great run at Arlington, races handy.Still gun shy from Grey Swallow though.
    Have to skinny up the Quad somehow,so will take Budge thing Lady Sententia and the very unlucky Kazanluk in the 3rd leg

  9. cowshedend says

    Surely the Epsom form is well and truly franked with Boban, Toydini must be awfully hard to beat in the mile .
    Crio, was just listening to your best mate Dom Bierne on UZ, is it me or is he channeling Little Britain?
    ‘Computer says No’

  10. No news from the beach as we have been “on tour”.I will let the more studious and form watchers of the group have their way as my track record Cox Plate Day is not good and will have a small wager for an interest (beware next year Im on my way over again)
    However Go the Knuckle owned by the Crows Management is running into form
    While I realize McEvoy picks up the choice rides for Snowden I cant believe Duric doesnt get more rides during the Carnival (Yes Crio I am biased)

  11. As they say Budge, I have only one word for you….
    Michelle Payne

  12. Budge,
    After a few reckless comments last week, you’ve hit the nail on the head.
    If Green Moon gets a position by hopefully going forward early it will be hard to beat. I go back to the race where Happy Trails beat him last year when he was totally underdone and this field is a bit similar. I also agree on the doubt re Its A Dundeel’s fitness. You know I like getting odds so 16’s or 20’s will do me fine with a saver on P de Lune.
    I hope to get some more study in soon, unfortunately the government is working me pretty hard today…….yes seriously.

    As for M Payne, don’t worry too much as there will have already been 15 or so races on the track and I reckon they will be winning from anywhere if they’re good enough.

    I don’t think 2 large meetings at the Valley on consecutive nights works, the racing gets too thin and the turnover will ultimately go the same way.

  13. I will see your M.Payne on a fav and raise you the best jockey in the country on a 25/1 chance through Australia’s best formline!! Get on James McDonald’s Queenslander, Dolly Dolly (4), as your fightback in MR9. Put it with 6 in exotics.

    Cowshedend, if Hvaastan has indeed spent the past months in the float he might be some hope – some trainers do their best “prep” in the float (and they trained one tonight)

  14. Skip of Skipton says

    Good to see Buffering win a Group 1. He was running 2nd and 3rd behind Black Caviar and Hay List back in his youth. Top effort Champ!

  15. Cheap buy has won $3! Another QLD victor.
    Don’t you sleep Skip?

  16. David Downer says

    Tricky plate. Queries on all runners. Queries on the speed-map. Some set for this, others have the Cup as the ultimate target, or has at least been in their thoughts.

    Without enormous confidence I’m settling on P.D. Lune. I think the cushion of the Valley might provide enough of an advantage to what we’ve seen thus far. plus his natural fitness level improvement might be greater than the others also. Will be sitting handy to peel out at the right time. My concern is the 3200 has probably been their aim for over a year, so there mightn’t be as much dash there today – yet he might have pinched a break on them by then!

    Green Moon is an interesting runner this year. Canny old R.Hickmott may have had the Cox Plate as the aim all along this time – given he’s got so many others lining up for the Cup. He might be one that goes forward for the first time this campaign.

    Hard to knock Happy Trails’ form. For whatever reason, he’s always overs and will be again today.

    IAD and Fiorente both super talented – but they might need too many breaks from the back. IAD more than the others set for this all along – the missed run setback messing with minds indeed! No surprises if either salutes of course, they’ve just gotta get that run – easier said than done.

    Can’t back them all!

    Wonder how the track’s playing after 18 races.

    Shabby card overall for Cox Plate day with the meeting last night – a late sentimental bet on Buffering has ensured a bit in the kick to play with however!

    Enjoy the day folks.

  17. Scouting wide will be the pattern. They are very lucky to have missed rain.
    Gai was emphatic last night that Rain Drum will win the mile….I’ll be avoiding gate 1 all day.
    Dolly Dolly R9

  18. They were taling the Cox Plate up as a match race between Atlantic Jewel and IAD. Once AJ scratched IAD should have been 2/1 but injury query has seen it get to good odds. Best horse, will go forward/midfield and wins if right. Green Moon danger.
    Race 1 No2 Boomwaa – more BOOMs for you Flynny!

  19. OK back to the sight screen. A couple of observations from today’s meeting. The first is from the pocket, the second not.
    1. M Payne has got LIFE. Yes, I know I was warned but that it it, I don’t care what price the horse is she is on, if you catch me backing it shoot me!
    2. Disgusted that Shamus Award has added its name to the pantheon of champions that are/were Cox plate winners. I realise that there have been some substandard ones in the past but at least the committee used to keep out most of the “unworthy” applicants (I’m pretty sure they knocked back Cole Diesel after he had won a Toorak Hcp and Caulfield Cup on the basis that he had no WFA form!).
    The thin edge of the wedge has been reached! The Cox Plate to me has always had an aura about it that has been shattered today. Since when have they had emergencies for this race anyway!? Its only because they got tipped off that Atlantic Jewel was unlikely to start that he even accepted and the MV committee should have said “thanks but no thanks”. Admittedly that would have potentially left us dealing with Happy Trails as the winner which would open up a whole new Pandora’s but at least he had some credibility in terms of form at that level even if there would have been other issues to deal with.
    There endeth the rant (for now).
    You’ll be surprised to know that I lost today. The above would all be relevant even in the unlikely event that this was not the case!

  20. Skip of Skipton says

    The ride on Lady Sententia was as arrogant as it was appalling. It was like Dye on Veandercross. The fact it still ran third only beaten a length or so enforces that.

    Yes, about the maiden who was allowed to win the W.S. Cox Plate. I agree with Budge. It shouldn’t have been afforded the opportunity. Bruce McAvaney was gobsmacked that a maiden had won the race and mentioned it a few times, but the others weren’t really interested in his jive. Who is Simon Marshall rooting?

  21. Back The Peak next start….

  22. Did I mention that M Payne has got LIFE ?

  23. Skip of Skipton says

    I don’t agree with Budge about Happy Trails. He’s the real shit, not just a miler like he once was. One of those beasts that keeps getting better with age and racing. I was up out of the couch cheering him on in the last furlong. If he was in a big name stable he’d have respect and short odds.

  24. Skip of Skipton says

    You might liken Happy Trails to Super Impose in many regards. Then there is the great American horse John Henry who mindfucked all the naysayers of his day by getting better and better as a 7,8 and 9 year old.

  25. David Downer says

    For the legacy of this year’s event, we can only hope Shamus Award now kicks on to compile a record worthy of your better Cox Plate champs (er, before he gets tipped out to stud in about six months).

    Shamus Award’s rating coming in to today was 109 – the same as So You Think when he lined up for this at his fifth start.

    Hoping he heads down that line of greatness, as opposed to say, Savabeel.

    There’ll be further uproar re the WFA weight allowance for 3yo’s, but nothing will ever change.

    P.D.Lune is bruised and battered and likely out of the Cup. Bossy now on Jet Away. You’d be feeling a bit sick if you took the $5 about PDL to win the 2013 Melb Cup on Stakes day a year ago!

  26. There are plenty of ordinary Cox Plate winners – it was not a vintage field (as befits a decade on from Fields of Omagh) and got the winner it deserved. Winner was “unders” as there was a groundswell, probably due to Dundeel’s fitness Q (though it was plonked late), PDL’s vulnerability and the knock available for all.
    It was a lacklustre day at the Valley.
    Glad to be out of there.

  27. David Downer says


    I didn’t make it out there this year, first one I’ve missed since FOO 2003.

    I wish I did just take heed of my opening line this morning…
    “Tricky plate. Queries on all runners. Queries on the speed-map” = No bets!

    There was some success today however. Having (blindly) followed Hvasstan for a long time I was baulking at him with the bar plates and patchy form …but I kept the faith against an inferior field today.

    Ditto Catkins. Tough horse. Gotta love the one’s that fight for ya!

    The ride on Sacred Falls from L.Innes. Hmmm.

  28. What about all of the rides in The Vase? No wonder Sydney bookies are cast.

  29. Glad I wasnt there but then we got an almighty flogging at bowls -with you all the way Budge

  30. Seemed like a dynamite advantage to be on the fence in the straight.

  31. The fact that Shamus Award could win a race that 2 of the best 3 year olds produced in this country could’t win the year before speaks volumes of the quality of the field.
    The greed of a 10 race programme that could easily been whittled down to 8 races(and that flatters it) is also testament that turnover (at any cost) is king.
    Toydini just got there, but the exposed form made it one of the few puntable races for the day.
    Highlight of the day was one dickhead yelling to Mark Seymour from the Hunters, to sing Horses(Daryl Braithwaite) as he began the opening rift of ‘Throw your arms around me’

  32. Noted the 2YO winner in Perth on Saturday was named ROEBUCK.
    Out of a mare called Last Temptation…..

  33. Peter Flynn says


  34. Oges,
    All we bloody ask is for a walk along the beach and a chat….a dream assignment for most blokes! What happened last week? MV1 – Richard Jolly 33/1. Surely David could have joined the dots. The Adelaide form is strong and nothing like backing those with racetrack experience. Literally and metaphorically throw those bowls away and hit the beach.

  35. Ok- mate- off and walking now and if this fails I will drive to the stables later this morning

  36. ” Jeder nach seinen Fähigkeiten, jedem nach seinen Bedürfnissen!”

  37. My needs for a walk and info were well rewarded – more later

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