There’s been a lot happening since our last report regarding what’s going on in the world of the WS Cox Plate 2019.
As we write this report, there are five Saturdays to go before the big race at the Valley.
And it seems as is always with the preliminary events going on, there are more questions being raised than questions being answered.
The three most pressing questions are these:
1) Is there a chink in Mystic Journey‘s armour? After her defeat in the Makybe Diva Stakes over 1600m, can she actually run a strong 2040m race at Moonee Valley? The Golden Eagle could still be a possibility if her next run leaves an element of doubt in her ability to run beyond a mile.
We will have an answer after the running of the Turnbull Stakes in two weeks time.
2) Can Avilius run 2040m on a dry track going around a tight circuit like Moonee Valley? Is he a capable left-handed horse or does he prefer the right-handed and wet tracks of Sydney? He is now the joint second favourite after winning the George Main Stakes last Saturday.
3) New Zealand mare Melody Belle has just won her 8th group 1 over in New Zealand.
Can she replicate her form in Australia, the perception from Australian pundits is that the Group 1’s over the ditch aren’t much chop, and that she’ll get found out with a better class of racing in Australia.
In racing, it’s all about timing, and the Kiwis have had great success in this race because of it.
She is not without a chance.
There are other questions of course surrounding horses like Verry Elleegant, Homesman, Te Akau Shark, and the two Japanese raiders Lys Gracieux and Kluger.
There is much intrigue happening over the next five weeks.
There are some things that we do know that are incidental to this race but have an impact on other key features.
For instance, Lys Gracieux won’t hang around after the Cox Plate and remain in Melbourne for either the Melbourne Cup or the McKinnon, her connections are taking her straight home so that she can prepare for the Japan Cup at the end of the November.
Verry Elleegant‘s form is causing concern for the Chris Waller camp.
Her two runs back this prep have been over shorter distances but it does look as though she is wanting more ground.
Her ideal race is now looking likely to be the Caulfield Cup over 2400m.
After saying early on in the year that the Waller camp appeared to have ‘worked her out’, I take that back, they are no wiser than before.
Thus the conundrum continues.
Horses like Humidor and Gailo Chop aren’t necessarily guaranteed to start if they can’t display decent form from now until then.
They are getting on in age now, they are hardened warriors of battle that really have nothing to prove so if they are retired beforehand then big celebrations to them.
More likely, if any decision was made about their continuation in racing it would probably be made after the McKinnon on Seppelt Wines Stakes Day.
The field limit could get up as high as 14, where as in past years it’s been around about 11.
So that will add another level of intrigue, as the Moonee Valley course is not that big.
The way things are playing out is that not everything is set in stone.
Pundits like to think that their perception of events will be accurate by race time, but usually they are way off the mark by the time we get there.
There’s no guarantee that the horses that we’ve been talking about for the best part of half a year will actually get to the start line.
One possibility could be the inclusion of a three-year-old coming in with a lightweight.
Much like Shamus Award did in 2013 as a maiden, and Adelaide in 2014 fresh off an international plane flight.
This year, names like Dalasan, Yes Yes Yes, Castelvecchio and Prince Fawaz are sticking their hands up.
Having a three year old in contention puts the cat among the pigeons, especially carrying a light weight under WFA conditions.
Just one other question before you wrap up this report.
Does anyone think that the MVRC were that successful in putting out invites to international horses?
Connections of many of the invited horses have snubbed Australia for Europe (the Arc) and the Breeders Cup in the USA.
Make of it what you will, read between the lines, but I think the outcome is obvious.
They need to market the Cox Plate in tandem with the Japan Cup and the December meeting in Hong Kong, which is a natural flow over a period of six or seven weeks.
The current SportsBet all-in market sees Mystic Journey at the head of the market still, with Avilius and Lys Gracieux tucked in behind. That will surely change over the next few weeks, as key preliminary race results are factored into the equation.
That’s all for this weeks WS Cox Plate Watch Report. Keep checking in with Kruzey.com.au for more, as we count down to the last weekend in October 2019.