The new 2019/2020 racing season really kicked off in earnest last weekend with the running of the P. B Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield.
This weekend it’s the first Group 1 of the season in Australia, with a star studded line up assembled for the Winx Stakes at Royal Randwick. The race will feature many of the Sydney based top guns including Cox Plate nominees: Avilius, Unforgotten, Youngstar and Verry Elleegant, plus Happy Clapper, Le Romain, Alizee and Kings Will Dream.
Whatever the result, one shouldn’t read too much into these early season races, as they are mainly used for fitness purposes in raceday conditions, which aren’t helped by very wet tracks.
Noticeable weekend results
Star Tasmanian mare Mystic Journey got her new season campaign underway with a win in the Group 2 P. B Lawrence Stakes over 1400m. Not a challenging exertion for her, with bigger races yet to come. Second was the frontrunner Cliff’s Edge while the Godolphin warhorse Hartnell slotted into third.
“Mystic Journey moves up, takes the lead, and the journey continues in grand style!”
— Racing.com (@Racing) August 17, 2019
Meanwhile over in New Zealand, another star studded line up presented for the Group 2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m), with two stable mates up against each other. Neither Te Akau Shark nor Melody Belle prevailed, with former Aussie but classy galloper Endless Drama picking up the prize. The race proved its worth, with all horses getting an early season rev up over the short 6 furlong distance. Onward to 1400m and 1600m races now.
Didn’t win but massive in defeat pic.twitter.com/WJWZzTHmM4
— Nic Evans (@111picketfence) August 17, 2019
Last week, the MVRC released the final list of nominations for the WS Cox Plate, the number of entries confirmed at 187.
As expected, many of the names of the original eleven invites are not there, with the exception of Japanese galloper Kluger.
Last years runner-up Benbatl has only just come back into work, and his connections will keep him in the Northern Hemisphere for the new season, with a possible tilt at the Breeders Cup meeting in early November.
Here is the article on the MVRC website: click here. There is a link to the nomination list towards the end of the article.
Of the high profile overseas horses we see in the list, there are names such as English Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, Japan, Danceteria, Circus Maximus, Communique, Django Freeman, Hunting Horn and Master Of Reality, among others.
Whether they make the journey down under remains to be seen.
The MVRC also announced a bonus incentive for the winner of the Juddmonte International, which is run this Wednesday at York during Ebor Carnival week. Of the small nine horse field assembled, only two are nominated for the Cox Plate: Japan and Circus Maximus.
It’s hard to know what the reasoning is behind such an incentive. It’s as if the MVRC are throwing enticements at the wall hoping that something will stick. What it suggests is that elite-level racing around the globe nowadays is a very competitive business, and connections of elite gallopers have choices.
Lys Gracieux – will she or won’t she?
Reports have emerged this week that dispensation may be given towards Japanese mare Lys Gracieux (winner of the recent Group 1 Takarazuka Kinen), in an attempt to get her to the Cox Plate despite a timing issue around quarantine.
It looks like all relevant parties are coming to the table and even if the dispensation is approved, there is no guarantee that the connections will take up the offer and come to Australia, due to all the logistics and obstacles involved.
For them, it might be easier just to fly over to California for Breeders Cup week, or stay put in readiness for the Japan Cup at the end of November. Decisions, decisions..
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.