Hugh Bowman rides Winx to her third Cox Plate win in a narrow victory over Humidor (Image: Racing Photos)

First acceptances revealed for Spring Racing Carnival feature races

The first round of acceptances for October’s $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) have been taken today with a total of 62 horses still in contention to challenge Winx in Australasia’s weight-for-age championship.

The mighty mare, who returns to the racetrack this Saturday at Randwick in pursuit of her 27th consecutive victory, remains on target to become the first horse in the 98-year history of the Cox Plate to win the race on four occasions. 

On a key day for Spring Racing Carnival aspirations, first acceptances were also taken today for a trio of three-year-old feature races during the Stella Artois Caulfield Cup Carnival – the $2 million Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas (1600m), $500,000 Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) and $350,000 Catanach’s Jewellers Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m).


Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) – The Valley, 27 October 2018

The 63 equine athletes which have accepted for The Valley’s flagship contest on Saturday, 27 October include 22 Group 1 winners – Winx being one of them – and nine internationally-trained raiders.

The overseas acceptors – up from five in 2017 – include Godolphin’s elite galloper and international invitee Benbatl, along with the Aidan O’Brien-trained quartet Cliffs Of Moher, Deauville, Hunting Horn and Rostropovich.   

Charlie Appleby has left three horses in the entry list, with Emotionless set to enter quarantine in Newmarket (UK) this Thursday and join his stablemates Blair House and last year’s Cox Plate placegetter Folkswood, who both arrived in Melbourne last Saturday.

Humidor, who ran Winx mightily close in last year’s Cox Plate and showed his pedigree with victory in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at his last start, headlines the local entries with Japanese import Tosen Basil, Kings Will Dream and the progressive Night’s Watch also among the seven acceptors for Darren Weir.

Trainer Chris Waller has accepted with nine horses in addition to Winx, including The Autumn Sun and Lean Mean Machine. The latter are among nine three-year-olds entered, including the fillies El Dorado Dreaming (Ben Smith), Asharani (David Vandyke) and Futooh (Team Hayes).

Other notables among the local contingent include the Lloyd Williams-owned Homesman, who came within a neck of winning the Cox Plate qualifier last Saturday at The Valley; and the Godolphin duo Avilius and Kementari, who is set to continue his spring campaign in this Saturday’s Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington.    

The most notable withdrawals were Pat Webster’s multiple Group 1 winner Happy Clapper, who finished sixth behind Winx in the past two Cox Plates; Stella Artois Caulfield Cup (2400m) winner Boom Time (Team Hayes), who has sustained a tendon injury; and internationals Poet’s Word (Sir Michael Stoute), Lancaster Bomber (O’Brien) and Neorealism (Noriyuki Hori), who have chosen not to accept invitations to compete.

Second acceptances for the Cox Plate will be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 25 September.



Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas – Caulfield, 13 October 2018

A total of 98 horses remain in contention for the nation’s premier three-year-old mile following the close of first acceptances today, with Waller again to the fore.

The 2015 Guineas-winning trainer has Group 1 juvenile champion The Autumn Sun, Saturday’s stylish Group 2 victor Lean Mean Machine and the immensely talented Zousain among six first acceptors.

Other high profile acceptors for the stallion-making race include star Sydney colt Graff (Kris Lees), the unbeaten Team Hawkes-trained Brutal, devastating McNeil Stakes (1100m) winner Native Soldier (Weir) and the classy fillies Seabrook (Mick Price) and Oohood (Tony McEvoy).

The notable withdrawals include Magic Millions winner Sunlight (McEvoy) and Tony Nicconi (Team Hayes), who feature among today’s first acceptances for the Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m) to be run at Caulfield four days after the Guineas.

Second acceptances for the Caulfield Guineas will be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 25 September.



Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) – Caulfield, 13 October 2018

The race to be crowned Australia’s premier three-year-old filly remains alive for 107 horses – 16 more than at the same time last year – following the closure of first acceptances today.

Group 1-winning juveniles Seabrook and El Dorado Dreaming headline the first acceptors along with this month’s brilliant Group 2 Furious Stakes (1200m) winner Pure Elation (Peter and Paul Snowden) and Saturday’s Listed Atlantic Jewel Stakes (1200m) winner Thrillster (Leon and Troy Corstens).

While Tony McEvoy has kept dual Group 1 placegetter Oohood and Kinky Boom in the $500,000 feature, he has withdrawn stablemate Sunlight, who was the most notable omission along with the injured Estijaab (Team Hawkes).

Second acceptances for the Thousand Guineas will be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 25 September.



Catanach’s Jewellers Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m) – Caulfield, 17 October 2018

Grahame Begg’s Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) champion Written By headlines 91 first acceptors for the feature event for three-year-old sprinters on day two of the Caulfield Cup Carnival, the Catanach’s Jewellers Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m).

The Team Hayes-trained filly Formality took home the Blue Sapphire last year and the stable has a race high 22 first acceptors, headed by Long Leaf and Tony Nicconi as they pursue their third victory in four years.

Another trainer with a strong hand is McEvoy, who has Seabook and Oohood among 17 first acceptors, whilst Team Hawkes is next best with 10 including Black Caviar’s son, Prince of Caviar. Other notable acceptors include Sydney colts Graff, Performer and Zousain.

Second acceptances for the Blue Sapphire Stakes will be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 25 September.