Race for historic Cox Plate gathers momentum

The chance to secure the coveted 100th W.S Cox Plate (2040m) is alive for 182 horses following the closure of nominations today for Australia’s weight-for-age championship at The Valley on Saturday, 24 October 2020.

An impressive list of entries has been assembled from each state of Australia for the 2020 Ladbrokes Cox Plate along with New Zealand, France, England and Ireland for the $5.25 million showpiece including trophies. Included within are 51 Group 1 winners, 42 Southern Hemisphere three-year-olds and 14 Northern Hemisphere three-year-olds.

Headlining the Australian contingent is Danny O’Brien’s Lexus Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare and his boom stablemate Russian Camelot, Queensland hero Alligator Blood and the inaugural two winners of The All-Star Mile, Mystic Journey and Regal Power.

Despite uncertainty around international participation owing to COVID-19 restrictions, the number of internationally trained entries remains the same as recent years at 28 of which 22 hail from Ireland’s famous O’Brien family.

Aidan O’Brien, the 2014 Cox Plate-winning trainer, has nominated 13 horses including 2019 contender Magic Wand and stable stars Japan and Magical, while his sons Joseph and Donnacha have entered eight and one respectively.

International and New Zealand horses are currently permitted to be transported into Australia; however their trainers and stable staff will require Federal Government exemptions to enter the country.

Racing Victoria (RV) Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter, said:

“The Ladbrokes Cox Plate is one of the most coveted prizes in Australian sport and winning the 100th edition of our iconic weight-for-age championship in such unique circumstances will ensure this year’s winner is long remembered.

“There is incredible diversity in the list of entries which pleasingly represents all states of Australia and lots of star power, so the foundation is there for a race befitting such an historic occasion.

“The quality of international entries remains strong despite the current COVID-19 restrictions and the next month will ultimately determine whether these internationals horses can compete in the 100th Cox Plate.”

Moonee Valley Racing Club (MVRC), Chief Executive, Michael Browell, said:

“Despite all the challenges that have been presented so far, today 182 dreams are alive to take out the legendary 2020 Ladbrokes Cox Plate in a year we are celebrating a significant milestone with the 100th running of our great race.

“The Club is pleased to see internationals declaring their interest to compete in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate, but they will face strong competition from many stables across Australia and New Zealand determined to see their horse’s name on the honour roll of legends.

“We look forward to the build-up and excitement around the Ladbrokes Cox Plate on October 24 when we will crown the next legend of The Valley.”

The $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate prizemoney pool will again be supported by the Ladbrokes Cox Plate Boost Series which offers the winners of selected local and international races eligibility for a $1 million bonus should they then go on to win the 2020 Ladbrokes Cox Plate.  

In addition to this and for the first time in the race’s history, the Group 2 $250,000 Feehan Stakes (1600m) at The Valley on 5 September will be the only race that carries a ballot exemption into the 2020 Ladbrokes Cox Plate thus providing an enticing ‘golden ticket’ for today’s nominees.

On a key day for Spring Racing Carnival aspirations, nominations were also taken for the $2 million Neds Caulfield Guineas (1600m) and $1 million Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) to be run at Caulfield on Saturday, 10 October.

The winners of both three-year-old Group 1 races are eligible for the $1 million Labrokes Boost Bonus if they race on to capture the Cox Plate a fortnight later.

Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) – The Valley, 24 October

The 182 nominations for the Ladbrokes Cox Plate is commensurate with the 187 taken in 2019. Other notable points of interest among the list of entries include:

  • There are eight horses that contested the 2019 Cox Plate nominated – Magic Wand (4th), Mystic Journey (5th), Kings Will Dream (6th), Harlem (8th), Cape of Good Hope (10th), Homesman (11th), Verry Elleegant (12th) and Danceteria (14th);
  • Four-time Cox Plate-winning trainer Chris Waller has entered a race high 18 horses headlined by star mares Verry Elleegant and Funstar and including recent stable acquisition dual Cox Plate placegetter Humidor;
  • Last season’s Group 1 winning juveniles Farnan (Golden Slipper), King’s Legacy (Sires Produce and Champagne Stakes) and Tagaloa (Blue Diamond) are among the 42 Southern Hemisphere three-year-old entries along with Magic Millions winning filly Away Game;
  • Joining Russian Camelot among the 14 Northern Hemisphere three-year-olds on the entry list are 2020 Group 1 winners Kameko (2000 Guineas); Peaceful (Irish 1000 Guineas) and Fancy Blue (Prix de Diane and Nassau Stakes);
  • The New Zealand-trained entries are spearheaded by Horse of the Year Melody Belle, and a classy group of four-year-olds including her stablemate Probabeel, Australian Derby winner Quick Thinker and New Zealand Oaks winner Jennifer Eccles; and
  • Master of Wine, Surprise Baby, King of Leogrance and Oceanex are among the leading contenders for the Stella Artois Caulfield Cup and Lexus Melbourne Cup that have been nominated for the weight-for-age showdown.

First acceptances for the Cox Plate will be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 8 September.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE COX PLATE NOMINATIONS

Neds Caulfield Guineas (1600m) – Caulfield, 10 October

The Neds Caulfield Guineas is Australia’s premier three-year-old mile and the headline among four Group 1 races on Saturday, 10 October - the opening day of the 2020 Caulfield Cup Carnival.

A total of 264 horses have been nominated for the $2 million race headlined by the heroes of last season’s two-year-old crop in Farnan (G1 Golden Slipper), King’s Legacy (G1 Sires Produce, G1 Champagne Stakes), Tagaloa (G1 Blue Diamond) and filly Away Game (Magic Millions).

Joining them are the horses that have provided their stiffest opposition to date in Group 1 juvenile placegetters Hanseatic, Glenfiddich, Mamaragan, Ole Kirk, Personal and Prague.

The Showdown winner Khoekhoe and unbeaten pair Cherry Tortoni and Hydro Star are among the untapped Victorians nominated, whilst highly spruiked trio Doubtland, North Pacific and Peltzer represent the interstate X-factor.

The leading stables by entries are Chris Waller (23), Ciaron Maher and David Eustace (20) and Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young (17).

First acceptances for the Caulfield Guineas will be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 8 September.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE CAULFIELD GUINEAS NOMINATIONS

Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) – Caulfield, 10 October

Prizemoney for the Schweppes Thousand Guineas was doubled to $1 million in 2019 and that pool has been retained in 2020 despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 238 three-year-old fillies were today entered for the Group 1 mile at Caulfield on Saturday, 10 October headlined by Away Game, Personal and Sweet Embrace winner Hungry Heart.

That trio are the only fillies to feature in the entries for all three feature races that closed today in the Cox Plate, Caulfield Guineas and Thousand Guineas.

A trio of lightly raced unbeaten fillies who feature prominently in futures betting in Agreeable, Scientific and the South Australian filly Instant Celebrity are among the other notable entries.

The Lindsay Park team of Tom Dabernig and Ben Hayes head the entry list with 20 nominees including Personal, followed by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace (17 including Away Game) and Anthony and Sam Freedman (14 including Agreeable).

First acceptances for the Thousand Guineas will be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 8 September.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE THOUSAND GUINEAS NOMINATIONS