Homeracing

Third Cox Plate highly likely for Winx

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Alastair Bull

October 27th, 2017

Is there any way that Winx won’t win the $A3 million W S Cox Plate for a third time, and extend her win sequence to 22 races?

The world’s best turf racehorse faces eight opponents in the 2,040-meter (about 1 ¼-mile) Cox Plate at Moonee Valley racecourse in Melbourne. There are some good horses among them, but connections of most have said they’re probably running to finish second.

Winx’s unbeaten streak came under some threat in her first three starts this Australian spring, the Warwick Stakes (G2), the Chelmsford Stakes (G2), and the George Main Stakes (G1). On each occasion she had a number of lengths to make up in the final two furlongs, but she did so comfortably enough in the end.

However, she was back to her dominant best in the Turnbull Stakes (G1) at Flemington in Melbourne, producing a dominant performance to beat Ventura Storm and Humidor.

Some betting agencies in Australia are offering bets on the race without Winx in the field. Punters may want to take a chance on something beating her - the best price about the rest is 17-1 - but it may be best to seek out multiples.

The closest horses in the betting to Winx are the imported French-bred Gailo Chop, Godolphin traveler Folkswood, Epsom Handicap (G1) winner Happy Clapper, Makybe Diva Stakes (G1) victor Humidor, and the improving 3-year-old Royal Symphony.

Gailo Chop is likely to set the pace, which he did so to great effect when winning the 1 ¼-mile Caulfield Stakes (G1) Oct. 14. That form held up well when second-place finisher Johannes Vermeer and fourth-place finisher Single Gaze finished third and second, respectively, in the 1 ½-mile Caulfield Cup (G1) the following week.

Three-year-old Royal Symphony didn’t get much luck when finishing fourth in the one mile Caulfield Guineas (G1) Oct. 14, and could get some of the money. Happy Clapper has been consistent, and Folkswood finished second to Breeders’ Cup hopeful Decorated Knight in the Jebel Hatta (G1) in Dubai earlier this year. Humidor, fifth in the Caulfield Cup, has a good record at 1 ¼ miles.

It would be a surprise if one of the remaining three – Kaspersky, Seaburge, and Hardham – figure strongly, though it is possible one of them sneaks into third.

But really, the race is all about whether Winx can become the second horse after Kingston Town to win three Cox Plates. Trainer Chris Waller has said it could be a prelude to a campaign in Europe next year, and the Breeders’ Cup has even been mentioned. Racing fans in the northern hemisphere will hope she does make it, and that she’s at her best.
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