Mystic Journey and Anthony Darmanin

Race for Spring greatness gathers momentum in three features

A total of 102 horses, including 36 Group 1 winners, remain in the hunt to succeed Winx as the Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) champion after first acceptances were taken at 12 noon today for Australasia’s weight-for-age championship.

With four-time winner Winx embarking on her new life as a broodmare, first acceptances for the $5 million race at The Valley on Saturday, 26 October have increased significantly from 63 in 2018.

Mystic Journey, the Tasmanian mare currently favourite to fill the void left by Winx, retains her place in the entry list, and will seek to extend her winning streak to eight races in this Saturday’s Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington.

On a key day for Spring Racing Carnival aspirations with the release of weights for the Stella Artois Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m), first acceptances were also taken today for the $2 million Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas (1600m) and $1 million Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m).


Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) – The Valley, 26 October

First acceptances for the 99th Cox Plate have risen by more than 60% year-on-year with 17 internationally-trained horses among them – up from nine in 2018.

The overseas acceptors include Japanese pair Lys Gracieux (Yoshito Yahagi) and Kluger (Tomokazu Takano) and last start German Group 1 winner Danceteria (David Menuisier) who have all accepted invitations from the Moonee Valley Racing Club (MVRC) to compete in the Cox Plate.

Irish legend Aidan O’Brien, the 2014 Cox Plate-winning trainer, has retained seven horses within including English Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck and dual Group 1 winner Circus Maximus.

O’Brien’s son Joseph has accepted with four horses for Australia’s Hall of Fame owner Lloyd Williams – Buckhurst, Latrobe, Master of Reality and Twilight Payment.

Williams has a further two locally trained acceptors in Yucatan and Homesman (both Liam Howley) who is guaranteed a start and his shot at a $1 million bonus after winning last Saturday’s Group 2 Feehan Stakes (1600m) at The Valley.

The All-Star Mile heroine Mystic Journey (Adam Trinder), Memsie Stakes winner Scales of Justice (Lindsey Smith) and dual Australian Cup winner Harlem (David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig) are other locally-trained horses among the first acceptors that are eligible for the $1 million Cox Plate bonus if successful.

Other notables among the first acceptors include James Cummings’ stars Avilius and Hartnell, dual Cox Plate placegetter Humidor (Ciaron Maher and David Eustace), comeback galloper Kings Will Dream (Chris Waller), New Zealand darling Melody Belle (Jamie Richards) and her boom stablemate Te Akau Shark.

A total of 19 three-year-olds remain among the acceptors including the fillies Flit (James Cummings) and Selica (Mick Kent) and the high-profile males Castelvecchio (Richard Litt), Dalasan (Leon Macdonald and Andrew Gluyas), Prince Fawaz (Anthony Cummings), Quick Thinker (Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman) and Yes Yes Yes (Chris Waller).

The most notable withdrawals were the Chris Waller-trained pair Arcadia Queen and Enticing Star and a trio of classic-winning three-year-olds who feature among the weights released for the Caulfield Cup in Angel of Truth (Gwenda Markwell), Crown Prosecutor (Stephen Marsh) and Winning Ways (Garry Newham).

Second acceptances for the Cox Plate will be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 24 September.




Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas – Caulfield, 12 October 2019

A total of 112 horses – up from 98 in 2018 – remain in contention for the nation’s premier three-year-old mile following the close of first acceptances today.

Group 1-winning juveniles Castelvecchio, Prince Fawaz, Lyre (James Cummings) and Yourdeel (David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig) feature among the first acceptances and are joined by a string of impressive three-year-old winners.

Those to stake an early claim for the Guineas this season with impressive victories include Exceedance (Team Hawkes), Dalasan, Bivouac (James Cummings), Super Seth (Anthony Freedman), Power Scheme (David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig), Yao Dash (Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott) and Kiwi entrant Quick Thinker.

The notable withdrawals were the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained pair Dubious, who is being kept to sprinting, and stablemate Loving Gaby, together with Golden Slipper heroine Kiamichi (James Cummings) who remains in the Thousand Guineas only.

Second acceptances for the Caulfield Guineas will be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 24 September.




Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) – Caulfield, 12 October 2019

The race to secure Australia’s richest three-year-old fillies’ mile continues in earnest with the number of first acceptances increasing year-on-year to 110.

Godolphin has retained a star-studded hand in the Thousand Guineas with juvenile stars Kiamichi and Lyre, joined by a further seven James Cummings-trained fillies including dynamic pair Exhilarates and Flit.

Other acceptors of note include Funstar (Chris Waller), Missile Mantra (Peter and Paul Snowden), Lady Lupino (Danny O’Brien) and highly rated New Zealand filly Probabeel (Jamie Richards).

The notable withdrawals were Loving Gaby, Villami (Gerald Ryan) and Anaheed (Peter and Paul Snowden).

Second acceptances for the Thousand Guineas will be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 24 September.