This is the first of an ongoing series of weekly reports leading up to the running of the W.S Cox Plate at Moonee Valley, usually held on the last week of October.
This year it will be run on Saturday 26th October 2019.
We’ve commenced this watch report due to all the peripheral activity going on from Racing NSW and their bold initiative to create lucrative new races around the same time frame, which effectively extends their Spring Carnival by a couple of weeks and now overlaps with Melbourne’s Spring Carnival.
Also, the Moonee Valley Racing Club (MVRC) have made recent announcements around prize money changes and bonus incentives for winning other nominated races elsewhere around the world and drawing up an invitation list to eleven top global nominees, including star Japanese mare Almond Eye.
*Check out Almond Eyes latest run the below in the yellow cap running 3rd*
1st Indy Champ 18/1
2nd Aerolithe 23/2
3rd Almond Eye 17/10pic.twitter.com/wjGW1ZdCq7
— M(Horse Racing) (@HorseRacing_M) June 2, 2019
The horses on the current invite list are:
Almond Eye, JPN
Best Solution, UAE
Crystal Ocean, UK
Indy Champ, JPN
Zabeel Prince, UK
Of this list, three have run in Australia previously: Benbatl, runner-up to Winx in last year’s Cox Plate and winner of the Caulfield Stakes, Kluger, runner-up to Winx in this year’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and Best Solution, winner of last year’s Caulfield Cup.
There’s no doubt that the invite list is a good one, but it’s also ambitious.
Let’s not forget that other top race meetings and carnivals around the world will also be running similar bonus schemes and incentives to attract the best horses to their top races.
It really is a competitive environment in the world of elite horse racing.
Now, it remains to be seen how many take up the invite due to logistics, travel, quarantine stand down, and even competition from the lucrative U.S Breeders Cup meeting which is held a week later (Victoria Derby weekend).
This is particularly pertinent for the European connections.
Lots of planning and mapping needs to occur before any invite is accepted by connections of horses on the MVRV wishlist. However, with Winx no longer a threat and deterrent to other runners, the field could be a competitive one.
However, there is one slight little problem.
Let’s say if all eleven nominees accept, it only leaves minimal local places available, as the race usually has a maximum of eleven runners, though the total amount of runners could change, but not by much.
Who does the MVRC choose to invite from the locals, remembering the race is by invitation only?
Ladbrokes Cox Plate International Bonus
To celebrate the 99th running of the W.S. Cox Plate, the Moonee Valley Racing Club has launched the Ladbrokes Cox Plate International Bonus.
At this stage, only one race has been announced as part of the Bonus program, being the Group 1 Takarazuka Kinen over 2200m on Sunday 23 June.
It’s the final Group 1 race of the Japanese spring season and will feature 18 runners.
Under the conditions of the Ladbrokes Cox Plate International Bonus, if the winner of the 2019 Takarazuka Kinen wins the 2019 Ladbrokes Cox Plate, they would win AUD$3M first prizemoney plus a AUD$2M bonus (total prizemoney plus bonus AUD$5M).
The MVRC will announce further bonuses toward other top line races in the coming weeks.
Of the locals
The MVRC has said that dual Australian Cup winner Harlem and ATC Derby winner Angel Of Truth would be given starts if connections choose to rock up.
The same for winners of the 2019 Caulfield Guineas, Caulfield Stakes and the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (Feehan Stakes).
It doesn’t leave a lot of opportunities for a range of other good local horses though.
Maybe, the All Star Mile winner Mystic Journey could take the soft option and race over 1500m at Rosehill in the Golden Eagle the following weekend.
She is eligible given that she is a four-year-old.
The same goes for Arcadia Queen, the former star Western Australian filly now based in Sydney, the two Victorian fillies Oohood and Amphitrite and of special interest; Verry Elleegant, who is now based in Sydney but looks a better option over the Moonee Valley 2040m distance rather than the shorter 1500m at Rosehill.
And what about Kenedna?
Local connections might feel snubbed by the MVRC’s actions and vote with their feet and go to Sydney instead.
It’s looking like an embarrassment of riches in the post Winx retirement era.
Who would’ve thought? Besides, they can’t all line up, the Moonee Valley course simply isn’t big enough.
Also, given that Derby Day always attracts some of the top Sydney riders, they now have two race meetings to choose from on that day.
Who flies down to Melbourne and who stays up in Sydney? Decisions decisions.
It does look like there will be much to discuss and mull over, as events become clearer on the landscape, especially around who of the invites drops off the list and what other international races are added to the bonus program.
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.