The Wolf’s profiles every runner in the 2015 William Hill Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.
Huge win first-up in the Caulfield Stakes and can only improve. That was a rock-hard track too. Hayes stable is flying. Stable very confident and every right to be. Drawn well. Horse right at the very top of his game. Caulfield Stakes winners record in the Cox Plate over the last 40 years is very good – 26 starters for 9 wins.
Was well below par in the Caulfield Stakes. This has been grand final all along so have to respect Lloyd at getting a spring runner to peak on the right day. Is he going as well as last year? No. And the form around him looks second tier. Gate kills any fluker’s hope he had.
Happy Trails ($18)
Reliable old warhorse that takes plenty of work to reach his top nowadays. Showed he was right on track for the Cox Plate by running Criterion to a narrow margin. Has had a couple of near misses in this race in the past – 0.1L off Shamus Award 2013 and 0.7L off Adelaide last year in blanket finish. Struggles to win consistently but impossible to write him off.
Looked set for a huge spring on the back of brilliant trials in Sydney. Seems to have left it all there though as his two runs haven’t bee flash. Was a bit better in the Turnbull but The Wolf can’t get it out of his head that Extra Zero ran past him. At his best he’d be in this. Have to really take on trust though.
Deserves his spot this year. He’s going as well as ever and loves this track (12:5-2-1) but he needed to box seat to be any chance. From the gate he won’t be afforded that luxury. Probably have to go back and try to slot in somewhere.
The Cleaner ($19)
The Longford Lion has won 5 of his past 6 at MV. That miss being 9th in last year’s Cox Plate. What The Wolf does love is how easy they’ve been on him this campaign. He was probably gassed by the big day last year. They’ve looked after him in his lead ups this time around. They’ll leave nothing in the tank here though. Expect King Callow to really crank him up early
Went horrible in the Caulfield Stakes. He overraced in behind and dropped out. Half expected Gai to chuck on the blinkers as a throw at the stumps. Not to be. Gai is yet to win a Cox Plate. Doubt that changes here. One of the few in the race willing to completely rule out.
Was a brilliant winner at Royal Ascot leading all of the way, two starts ago. At his latest outing it took the flying grey Solow – who has won 9 straight – to beat him in Sussex Stakes. And there was only 0.5L in it. Loves firm decks. Races handy. Drawn well. He’s a high class animal.
Was going to be the Magic Man but James Doyle takes the sit. John O’Shea has done a remarkable job to get him back to his best after such a long lay-off. He beat Kermadec second-up and by a space. Then ran third to Preferment and Magic Hurricane. Then got off the canvas to beat Hauraki. All hot form races. Third run staying at 2000m when the Caulfield Cup was always target is the slight knock.
Gailo Chop ($21)
Probably fair to say he sits a few lengths below fellow internationals Arod and Highland Reel. He ran third – beaten 1.5l – behind Solow three starts back. He tired late after leading in the Prince Of Wales where Criterion beat him by 2L. Has since has had a confidence boosting win in France to get him back on track. Multiples.
Forgotten horse? He was all the rage after the George Main and the Cox Plate favourite. It was a solid effort to close in the Caulfield Stakes but at the end of day, Criterion’s run was better. Firm track and first run at 2000m the excuses. Worked very sharply at MV on Tuesday morning. Expect improvement. Three and four year olds have won the past six straight Cox Plates (Highland Reel, Preferment and Winx the others that fit the bill here).
Hugh Bowman jumps off to ride Winx. Nash goes on who is also a strong rider. However, Hugh is a massive loss. Preferment has gone to a new level this spring showing a terrific turn of foot. That flat spot is now gone from his style. Third run 2000m some query. Could be looking for further now. Is he here to win to boost his stud value or dodging a Cup penalty by skipping Caulfield? His best chance would be if they go mental in front and it turns into war of attrition.
Highland Reel ($5)
Aiden O’Brien/Ryan Moore/Coolmore – that combo is chasing back to back Plates after Adelaide won last year. And he looks every bit as good as Adelaide. Highland Reel trotted in the Secretariat in the US by 5L. That was the same race Adelaide won last year by 1.5L. He was then beaten 4L by Golden Horn who went on to win the Arc, lowering the colours of French star Treve. That is a phenomenal form line. Races handy and maps to tag back of The Cleaner. Deserved favourite.
Explosive turn of foot. As was on display in the Epsom. First time WFA. First time MV. Few queries. Barrier 1 doesn’t look ideal as she’d be at her best slinging off the turn out wide. Bowman will have to duck and dive late. Chance but given the question marks, looks slight unders.
The Wolf’s Top 5
1. Highland Reel
Odds as of 1pm Thursday 22 October.
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