The race to secure the historic 100th Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) remains alive for the connections of 109 horses who feature among the first acceptances for the weight-for-age championship of Australasia which were taken today.
The figure, which includes 37 Group 1 winners, represents the second highest number of first acceptors in the past decade with the lion’s share of a $5 million purse and a one-off gold Cox Plate trophy on offer for the winner at The Valley on Saturday afternoon, 24 October.
There were 102 horses that remained at the same point 12 months ago – up from 63 in 2018 when champion mare Winx was chasing and ultimately secured her memorable fourth straight Cox Plate.
There were 110 first acceptors back in 2014 – the year in which Northern Hemisphere three-year-old Adelaide delivered a maiden Cox Plate to Irishman Aidan O’Brien.
O’Brien has 12 of today’s 17 internationally-trained first acceptors – the same total as 2019 – including established stars Japan, Magical, Circus Maximus and Magic Wand and eight of the 11 Northern Hemisphere three-year-olds that remain.
O’Brien’s son Joseph has accepted with three horses headlined by the Lloyd Williams-owned Buckhurst, whilst Willie Mullins (True Self) and Roger Charlton have one piece, with the latter’s Group 1-winning Aspetar a likely starter.
Nominal Cox Plate favourites Russian Camelot and Verry Elleegant feature among the first acceptances, as does the former Aidan O’Brien-trained Sir Dragonet who arrives in Australia on 2 October to join the Ciaron Maher and Dave Eustace stable.
Other notable first acceptors include Melbourne Cup hero Vow And Declare, Arcadia Queen, Behemoth, Surprise Baby and last weekend’s Feehan Stakes winner Humidor who is guaranteed a shot at a third Cox Plate placing.
A total of 22 Southern Hemisphere three-year-olds feature among the first acceptors including Alcyone, Farnan, Flying Award, King’s Legacy, North Pacific and Tagaloa.
The most notable older withdrawals were The All-Star Mile winners Mystic Journey and Regal Power after below par performances and setbacks in the past month, Australian Cup winner Fifty Stars who has encountered a delayed campaign and Australian Guineas winner Alligator Blood who is targeting shorter races this spring.
Second acceptances for the Cox Plate will be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 22 September.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE COX PLATE FIRST ACCEPTANCES
On a key day for 2020 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 Neds Caulfield Guineas (1600m) and Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m).
Neds Caulfield Guineas (1600m) – Caulfield, 10 October
The $2 million 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 113 horses feature among today’s first acceptances with the Maher and Eustace stable leading all-comers with 14 acceptors. Chris Waller is next with 12, while the Tom Dabernig and Ben Hayes partnership has nine.
Group 1 winning juveniles Farnan, King’s Legacy and Tagaloa headline acceptors, with other notables including current favourite Flying Award, Aysar, Glenfiddich, Holyfield, Mamaragan, North Pacific and Prague.
The notable withdrawals include a trio of horses focused on sprinting targets this campaign in Anders, Hanseatic and Rothfire, along with the Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr trained pair of Our Playboy and Wisdom of Water.
Second acceptances for the Caulfield Guineas will be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 22 September.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE CAULFIELD GUINEAS FIRST ACCEPTANCES
Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) – Caulfield, 10 October
The $1 million Schweppes Thousand Guineas is Australia’s richest mile race for three-year-old fillies and has attracted 102 first acceptors.
The Lindsay Park team of Dabernig and Hayes head the list of acceptors with 11 including the highly talented Group 1 placegetter Personal.
Emerging local fillies Night Raid and Agreeable are among the key acceptors, as too are in-form Sydney duo Dame Giselle and Hungry Heart.
Today’s notable withdrawals from the Thousand Guineas were Magic Millions winner Away Game and last start Quezette Stakes winner Bella Nipotina.
Second acceptances for the Thousand Guineas will be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 22 September.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE THOUSAND GUINEAS FIRST ACCEPTANCES