With all the talk surrounding the star mare Winx, it is looking like the 2017 Cox Plate will be a battle for the minors. Arguably, in her best shape ever, she is aiming to win her third Cox Plate in as many years. Little bit of value around with Folkswood, Gailo Chop and Humidor looking the strongest of her competitors. Have a look below as we preview all the runners in what is the biggest weight-for-age race in this country.
1.Happy Clapper ($2,700) (9)
An experienced horse who has been in decent form this Spring carnival. Ran 2nd to Winx a few starts ago in Sydney, albeit by a massive margin. Struggled at his only other start at MV running 6th in the 2015 Cox Plate. Will have it all to do in a tough race at a distance he has struggled at. Form is suited more towards the mile. A mid-field finish would be the expected result.
2. Gailo Chop ($3,100) (4)
A strong horse out of the impressive Weir stable. Coming off a win in the Ladbrokes Stakes last start in Sydney, the Weir/Zahra combination will be hoping to continue their success this season. Finished 8th in his only other run at MV, the 2015 Cox Plate. Expect Zahra to get him up leading or on pace early and aim to go on with the job. A strong chance for a place and one to have in your exotics.
3. Humidor ($3,100) (8)
The second of the Weir runners, Humidor has been disappointing in his last two starts. Impressed with victory in the Makybe Diva Stakes – last to first, rounded them up easily. Was no match for Winx a couple of runs ago finishing 7 lengths back in 3rd. Form over the mile has been more impressive but has won at this distance before. Without a run at MV but if he can find cover early he has the quality to be in the mix come the business end of the race. Will be pushing Folkswood and Gailo Chop for the minors.
4. Kaspersky ($2,000) (2)
A horse out of the UK coming off a poor first showing on Australian soil. Jumped well and lead but couldn’t go on with it – finished back of the field at Caulfield two weeks ago. Has only had one run at this distance for a place. Hard to judge having not seen much of him. You would think he is the speed in this race but will do well to hold on up front. 100/1 seems fair going off only other showing this prep.
5. Folkswood ($3,100) (5)
Highly rated gelding out of the impressive Charlie Appleby stable. Absolutely blitzed strong field in Cranbourne Cup last start. Sat midfield, hit front round the turn and went on with it. The in-form Kerrin Mccevoy on board again. Expect him to sit just off pace behind Kaspersky or Gailo Chop and look to storm home. Great record at this distance. Will be biggest competition to Winx come Saturday. Rate highly for your exotics and strong each way chance. Best of the rest.
6. Seaburge ($2,000) (1)
Has struggled this prep with finishes outside top 10 in first two starts. Can forgive one of those after pulling up early. Ran home well last run in G1 Toorak. Has had trouble out of the gates this prep with a few slow starts. Would expect him to run just off midfield and hope for strong speed from leaders. Never run at MV, will need a bit of luck to finish near the placings.
7. Hardham ($2,000) (3)
Has struggled in weight-for-age runs and questionable form dropping back in distance. Will expect to see him ridden towards the back. Will do it tough in such a competitive race and priced accordingly. One previous run at MV winning G2 back in Autumn. Will have it all to do – back end of the field finish to be expected.
8. Winx ($15,000) (6)
Where do I start? Arguably the best we have ever seen. Gunning for 22 straight wins and her 3rd straight Cox Plate. Looking to join legendary Kingston Town as the only other horse to win this race three times. Loves it here at MV and form this prep has been outstanding. Expect Bowman to sit her just in behind the pace and swoop them around the turn. All evidence pointing towards another Winx victory. $1.15 favourite as she should be. Better than bank interest.
9. Royal Symphony ($3,100) (7)
Highly rated colt who has impressed this prep and looking like this distance will suit him. Was luckless in G1 Caulfield Guineas, struggled to get a run but laid in and ran on pretty well. Will be better for the run. No previous starts at MV – questionable form on smaller tracks. Would expect him to be in the top half of the field. Include in your exotics.
8, 5, 3, 2, 1