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Racing Rants (Edition 2) – An early look at the Cox Plate

August 4, 2011

Blake Redden (1st Past The Post Racing) and Andrew Hawkins (Andrew Hawkins Racing) present Racing Rants – a discussion of issues and news affecting the racing industry.

This week, Blake and Andrew look at the nominations for the Cox Plate, to be run at Moonee Valley on October 22.

Andrew Hawkins: Welcome to the second edition of Racing Rants, where we discuss some of the main issues and the big news items affecting the racing industry. This week, we are going to take an early look at Cox Plate nominations following their release earlier this week. Blake, welcome. What are your early thoughts after looking at the noms?

Blake Redden: G’day Andy, yes it was a cracking week with nominations for the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate being released. It’s just under a month until we get a look at who will be trying to win the Melbourne Cup! I must say this year looks as difficult as ever, there is no clear standout. You can probably look at it two ways – look for an old tough warhorse or you can try to find a horse coming through the ranks who may sneak under everyone’s guard..then there are your favourites, the internationals!

AH: Yeah, you know how much I love the internationals. And there are some great internationals nominated this year. Of course, the headline nomination is So You Think. But I’m extremely doubtful we’ll see him here. I reckon, if Ballydoyle have their quarantine facilities approved, Cape Blanco will be more likely to come, but I don’t think we are any chance of seeing So You Think.

BR: I agree he is highly unlikely, we may just be seeing him revel on the Breeder’s Cup stage at that time of the year. Only time will tell. Cape Blanco is probably more likely but I couldn’t see him being competitive on a tactical track in foreign conditions.

AH: Really? I don’t mind him. Sure, it is a tactical track but he’d be up on the speed, which always helps. I guess the only query is whether he would be outpaced over the 2000m and whether he’d be suited by Australian racing conditions. I reckon though, if she comes, I’d be on the South African mare River Jetez. She ran some blinders this year, second in the Dubai Duty Free, second in the Singapore International Cup. She is eight which is a query, but she’s been in career best form this year! And I reckon she’d be perfectly suited to Australian racing conditions. Don’t forget either, Mike de Kock is one of the great travellers of horses. He also has the Australian-bred Musir nominated.

BR: You read my mind Andy! Mike de Kock is one of the world’s best trainers, undoubtedly. I would lean to the colt Musir of his two nominees. Some of his wins in Dubai have been breathtaking and if he returns to his best form he would be competitive in this year’s edition. Speaking of South Africans though, when was the last time we saw one on our shores? Would it have been Paraca in the Cox Plate of 2003, the mare who came with 6 furlong form and looked the winner until they got to the 1000 metres? Ha!

AH: Haha Paraca! Yeah, I don’t know why they let her in! River Jetez is superior to her, for sure. I think the last South African was Greys Inn in 2005 – also trained by Mike de Kock! Back to this year though, and another big talking point is that Americain is a likely runner in the Cox Plate! I couldn’t back him, especially at Moonee Valley over the shorter distance. But who knows, in what looks an incredibly open year, perhaps he could be one to watch?

BR: There is no doubt he would be suited to the WFA scale and he could be a knockout hope but it’s hard to say this far out. But enough of the internationals, getting back to the Australian nominees. One that I like, although he is getting on a bit, is Alcopop. I just reckon problems here and there have stopped him from really stamping himself. But this could be his spring! I am expecting a forward showing from him this weekend.

AH: Hmmm, I don’t know. I never really warmed to Alcopop. Remember that night at Moonee Valley when he won the JRA Cup, and we thought it was Miss Darcey (similar colours) and we were screaming like maniacs? Horrifying. The only way I could consider Alcopop is if he hit a purple patch of form, and I don’t know how likely that is. To be honest, I can’t wait to see the return of Efficient – he’s ageing now too but he could be the one to keep an eye on – providing all stays well with him.

BR: Hahaha yes, boy, he was dominate that night! Old Efficient, gee, I don’t know if he could get warm around Moonee Valley anymore! But he is a class act and you would have to consider him if he turned up on the day. One from left field I will throw at you is Somepin Anypin. He may not get the distance but I think he is destined for big things this preparation.

AH: Wow, that is a real left field suggestion! Although, he did look like he was an emerging star of Sydney racing before he failed in the Hobartville. Gary Portelli was convinced he’d be a superstar. He’d have to win the Epsom to be any hope in a Cox Plate, that’s for sure. And I don’t think he’ll be winning the Epsom. I think the Epsom winner may be Foreteller, who was stunning last Saturday. It’s a big rise in class but his last two wins have been stunning. His sectional times are good and I’m sure he’s a Group 1 horse. It just depends if he wants further – he may be a Metropolitan horse. Perhaps he’ll do what Saintly and Speed Gifted did before him – go to the Cox Plate after the Metropolitan. I reckon he’ll be a top notch 2000m horse.

BR: He was impressive, but they all have to do it in the hustle and bustle of Group Oe action before you’d want to go diving into them, not a bad early selection though. What about Vigor? Another one getting on in age but he is honest as the day is long, most people probably won’t agree but I reckon he has a big race left in him.

AH: He’s been unlucky, that horse. May get his chance this spring but I still couldn’t see him winning a CoxPlate. I want to make it clear right now though – I will NEVER have on top the likes of Whobegotyou or Heart of Dreams. Never been a fan of Whobegotyou, and I don’t think he runs a strong 2040m, while Heart of Dreams definitely doesn’t run a strong 2040m.

BR: I agree they both look like they have had their time in the sun but you can never discount tough old horses. It will all depend on how they come up this prep I guess. Now what about the three year olds, can you see any making the leap?

AH: I was just getting there. I think, in early markets, I want to be on an international or a 3YO. I have fond memories of the last 3YO I backed in a Cox Plate, and I think this year is probably the best year for a 3YO to come along and win. Helmet and Smart Missile are high up in very early markets, but I reckon the one I’d be banking on – $101 with Betstar – is Do You Think. So You Think may not be able to make it a treble but Do You Think can give us the closest thing to it. Always had three year old written all over him, I’m surprised he did so well as a two year old. Can’t wait to see him in the Caulfield Guineas, and if he does well there – progress to the Cox Plate. How about you?

BR: I agree this could be a great year for the three year olds. I have a couple on my early radar, Mosheen looks an absolute cracker and with the light weight for a filly in the big race you can’t go past having an early punt on her at mammoth odds. I’m also keeping track of one who isn’t even nominated but I like his style. Burnout, a young Darley horse, he will be hard to beat in the big three year old races this season.

AH: Interesting – that’s the thing about the Cox Plate, unlike the Melbourne Cup you can pay a late entry fee a week before the race! I’m going to keep an eye on Dowager Queen, but she’s definitely not a betting proposition! As I read recently, she’s a filly who wanted 3200m as a two year old! Speaking of the Kiwis, it is going to be interesting to see Lion Tamer here. I hope he’s not solely a wet tracker – if he isn’t, he could be the weight for age star we are looking for. Same with Jimmy Choux, although he had a big three year old preparation. Also reckon the nomination of Booming is interesting, although he looks an ideal Cups candidate.

BR: Gee, the nominations go on and on, don’t they? We could talk all day about the ins and outs of each runner! At this stage though, why don’t we put together our dream team? The top 14 horses we would love to see running around on October 22 this year.

AH: Okay, that’s very tough! I’m going to work on the assumption that So You Think won’t be back. I’d love to see him win an Arc!!! So my 14 would probably be Americain, Cape Blanco, December Draw, Do You Think, Efficient, Foreteller, Glass Harmonium, Helmet, Jimmy Choux, Lion Tamer, My Kingdom of Fife, River Jetez, Sincero and Wall Street. There are others there, like Budai, Dangerous Midge and Dowager Queen who I could have had in, but not everyone can make it! It’s tough though Blake, who would you include?

BR: Lots of internationals there Andy!

AH: …only three…well, three internationals and four imports. I’m sure you aren’t counting the Kiwis as internationals now!

BR: I agree it’s very, very tough! I’ve gone for plenty of left field selections. I’d have Alcopop, Burnout, I’m Imposing, Linton, Meiner Kitz, More Joyous, Mosheen, Musir, Once Were Wild, Playing God, Red Eye Special, Somepin Anypin, Vigor and Whobegotyou.

AH: I can’t believe you included Whobegotyou! Do you seriously think he has any chance?

BR: Haha of course he does Andos! Open your eyes, old son, he was closing down So You Think (possibly our greatest horse) and Zipping (possibly our toughest horse) in last year’s Plate!

AH: He started to slow down the last 100 metres though! But okay, each to their own. Happy to make a side bet now – I will say Whobegotyou will miss a place! I prefer the stablemate December Draw for sure, I reckon he’ll go close in the Caulfield Cup!

BR: You are on, Whobe is just a tough, old horse. I reckon he will be thereabouts when the whips are cracking!

AH: Deal! Well, readers, that’s it for Racing Rants this week. Let us know your top 14, and whether you agree or disagree with our selections! Blake and I will be back next week for some more arguments as we head into the juicy part of the racing season – the spring!

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