5 Things We Learnt On The Weekend
The Wolf’s observations from the Weekend’s Races….
1. Winx’s ceiling is uncapped
In just her 15th race start Winx annihilated Australasia’s best weight for age gallopers as well as a couple of well performed overseas starters in a breathtaking Cox Plate victory. The biggest question mark for her now – how far can she go? I mean she’s already won what is perceived as the nation’s best race, she’s a three time group one winner in three different states, she’s proven she can stay, she’s proven can she can sprint – what should they do with her moving forward? Well you’d have to think the plan is Doncaster/Queen Elizabeth in the Autumn, it just seems the logical way, there’s little point having her run in mares only group ones as that will do zero for her worth or her legacy. After that it’s either retirement or overseas. She looks to have the perfect racing manner and pattern to be successful in Hong Kong and Dubai (able to quicken off fast pace, great acceleration), but Honkers is in December and Dubai is during our Autumn carnival. Europe is a chance but that would give her little rest straight after a tough Autumn campaign. How about The US? There’s a huge amount of mares turf group ones she would be more than competitive in which would raise her value, especially on a world stage, and they could target the Breeders Cup meeting this time next year. No matter what the world is at her feet – she has the three greatest traits of the true champions – acceleration, versatility, and will to win and it’s going to take her to enormous heights.
2. Pretenders weeded out quick in good Cox Plates
Before Winx dismantled them, the Cox Plate field looked very even on paper but was still an edition that seemed one of the better ones of the past decade – there was little tail to it and you could make a case for almost all of the runners bar one or two who were probably not genuine winning hopes. It was certainly the best field since So You Think’s second Cox Plate and before that you probably have to go back to at least Makybe Diva’s triumph in 2005. It proves two things – firstly how good Winx was (that’s been well covered), and secondly how much a good Cox Plate will weed out the horses who, whilst very good gallopers in their own right, have too many chinks in the armour to be the best at this level. The three best examples were Preferment, Arod and Kermadec – all three were somewhat fancied going into the race yet all three’s “chinks” came to the fore here – Preferment is a big track horse whose pattern makes him a little one dimensional, Kermadec had class/form concerns and think we can safely say he’s a miler in this grade, whilst Arod is a proven top class galloper but it’s all been around 1600m – 1800m and the enormous pressure in a Cox Plate was always going to test him. In fairness to those who backed those horses, those deficiencies were just questions heading into the race – you can’t blame different punters for taking a different view pre-race. But that’s the beauty of a great Cox Plate field – there’s so many questions to answer – and if a runner can’t answer those beyond doubt in the race, then they get left behind in the dust of those that can.
3. The right Plate horse?
We’ve had 7 editions of the Cox Plate (Maldivian, 2008) since a horse aged 5 or older has won – coincidence or a developing trend? Unfortunately for the late bloomers of the world I think it’s the latter. There is a new “type” of successful Cox Plate horse – it’s one that hasn’t necessarily proven itself at the elite level but has the scope to do so, it’s one that can take advantage of its weight pull, and it’s one that probably hasn’t had a huge amount of starts but has competed with the best of their age group – if your Cox Plate runner fits those descriptions then you’d feel very good about their chances. If we take a quick look at those last 7 Plate winners you’ll find they all have somewhat similar profiles in certain areas. “X Factor” is one of the biggest themes – Winx, Adelaide, Ocean Park, and So You Think (first time) were all exactly that – they were the horses that had the highest proverbial ceiling in the years they won, they all had something unknown about them and by winning the race they answered those questions. Shamus Award and So You Think (first time) both had the big weight pull and the tactical speed to take advantage of it, though the “X Factor” horse in Shamus Award’s year was Atlantic Jewel who would have won the race had she not been a late withdrawal. So You Think was an absolute superstar and a proven weight for age commodity the second time he won – those types will always win (or go very close to winning) the Cox Plate. The one that perhaps doesn’t fit into one of these categories is Pinker Pinker, the shock 2011 winner. It’s fair to say that 2011 was one of the weakest Cox Plate lineups in the long history of the race – no internationally trained runner (not inc NZ), a “false” favourite in Helmet who was always a huge chance of not getting a mile and a half with pressure on, and a long list of horses in the race that wouldn’t have even gained a start in either of the last two editions – and still Pinker Pinker was 40-1! I guess that’s racing.
4. Jameka still has Oaks question marks
Jameka was superb on the weekend beating the colts in the Vase, what’s about to be stated here is not taking anything away from her decisive win on Saturday. But she has definite question marks heading towards Flemington for the Oaks. Thought she’d had enough on the line, at the very least she didn’t take the doubt out of the mind in regards to her staying 2500m. Secondly she was given the perfect ride by Damien Oliver on Saturday, taking advantage of the track bias and using Jameka’s versatile racing pattern to put her in exactly the right spot. Thirdly, as classy as she is, she isn’t so far in front of others that will line up Thursday week class wise to have that carry her to victory, like a Mosheen or a Miss Finland, without having the staying prowess to back that up. And she’s certainly not bred to stay given she’s by Myboycharlie out of a General Nediym mare that comes from a family with only some staying blood. Like we stated she’s very good and will win her fair share of races, but when lined up against the likes of Sacred Eye (class and staying ability), Dawnie Perfect (huge staying upside), and Pasadena Girl (still improving this campaign) in the Oaks, her $4 current price isn’t all that appealing.
5. Chautauqua does insane things
Talk about a horse with some “X Factor” – wow, Chautauqua just keeps raising the bar when it comes to winning races in sensational/freaky/insane style. His Manikato Stakes victory was just pure excitement for race fans – he’s the perfect type of horse too to get the crowds gasping for air – a star sprinter whose natural racing pattern is back in the field, but has such a devastating turn of foot that he can make up ground in a very short amount of time and space. Not only that but he’s not a backmarker that is one dimensional in that he can’t make ground unless there’s genuine speed on (although there was last Friday night), he seems to be able to win with his pattern regardless of what’s going on up front, such is his acceleration – in fact his ability to quicken and keep that same speed going until the line is as good as any galloper of recent memory, right up there with the likes of Lonhro, So You Think, and, dare we say it, but even Black Caviar. Cannot wait to see him on the world stage as he is clearly our most credentialed racehorse and one that could potentially dominate at that level.