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Hawk’s 2014 Cox Plate Day Selections – Who Will Win?

October 25, 2014

Cox Plate day is here for another year, and the business end of the spring carnival is upon us.

It still does feel somewhat watered down now with the two-day carnival, but there’s some fascinating racing today as the Melbourne Cup Carnival creeps closer for another year.

So who will win Australia’s weight-for-age championship and join an honour roll that includes Phar Lap, Chatham, Young Idea, Ajax, Beau Vite, Tranquil Star, Flight, Hydrogen, Rising Fast, Redcraze, Tulloch, Tobin Bronze, Gunsynd, Dulcify, Kingston Town, Strawberry Road, Bonecrusher, Better Loosen Up, Super Impose, Octagonal, Might and Power, Sunline, Northerly, Fields of Omagh, Makybe Diva, So You Think…and the maiden Shamus Award?

I’ve given my analysis for the Cox Plate, as well as selections for the other races.

Good luck!

Race 1 – INGLIS BANNER (1000m)

13 – REALISE THE DREAM
14 – STYLEMAKER
7 – HOT SNIPPETY
4 – SAN SIERRA

Race 2 – CITY JEEP HANDICAP (1000m)

5 – STRAIGHT GOLD
11 – MINAJ
2 – VATICAN
1 – ROCKY KING

Race 3 – GROUP 2 FILLIES CLASSIC (1600m)

8 – KANSAS SUNFLOWER
1 – LUMOSTY
3 – TAHNI DANCER
4 – TENDER

Race 4 – GROUP 3 TELSTRA PHONEWORDS STAKES (1200m)

2 – LAW
10 – GALAXY PEGASUS
1 – PRESSING
11 – GLENROWAN PRINCE

Race 5 – GROUP 2 MOONEE VALLEY CUP (2500m)

4 – AU REVOIR
1 – PRECEDENCE
7 – OPINION
5 – LE ROI

Race 6 – GROUP 2 CRYSTAL MILE (1600m)

3 – AKAVOROUN
2 – HAVANA REY
4 – DESERT JEUNEY
6 – HOOKED

Race 7 – GROUP 2 MOONEE VALLEY VASE (2040m)

10 – ATMOSPHERE
2 – CHIVALRY
5 – BONDEIGER
13 – GO INDY GO

Race 8 – GROUP 1 COX PLATE (2040m)

No matter which way you look at it, it’s far from the strongest Cox Plate field ever assembled. But it is a competitive race and probably one of the more intriguing Cox Plates in recent years.

To explain how I see the Cox Plate, and how I reached the conclusions I did, takes a fair bit of time. And it relies on certain assumptions being made about how the race will be run. For example, I’ve put a line through SACRED FALLS, but if the race is run differently, he would be near the top.

I see THE CLEANER crossing over from the outside gate to lead them up, possibly with SIDE GLANCE kicking through along the inside. That said, Side Glance tends to lead at a fairly sedate tempo and I’m sure they’d be happy to sit behind the speed so I expect The Cleaner to get to the lead up the side without too many hassles.

From there, he will employ his traditional style – step up the pressure, break the hearts of his rivals and hope it’s enough to hold out.

The thing about The Cleaner is that he does what old Vo Rogue used to do – he sucks the turn of foot out of horses. Check out Vo Rogue’s videos and see what he did to horses with a brilliant sprint, like Super Impose.

The way the race is likely to be run, with The Cleaner putting his foot down and making it a pressure race from the 800m or so, I don’t want to be on horses that are going to be too far out of their ground, horses that are going to struggle at the trip and horses that have a sharp turn of foot.

So for me, that already rules out the likes of Sacred Falls, HAPPY TRAILS, FORETELLER, GUEST OF HONOUR and the three-year-olds.

That leaves seven horses – FAWKNER, Side Glance, The Cleaner, CRITERION, SILENT ACHIEVER, ROYAL DESCENT and ADELAIDE.

Of those, I have to take on Adelaide – I think he was terrific last start, but there’s a big question mark over the form from that race. And his form before that is nothing special – the American turf three-year-olds aren’t crash hot, and he was good without being great in his European races before that. If he does what he did in Chicago, where he drifted to the outside fence, then Moonee Valley seems to be a real concern.

Criterion is a bit hit and miss for mine, he should get a nice run but I think the way the Caulfield Stakes was run really suited him and I’m not sure it will suit him so much here.

Royal Descent is a consistent mare, but she hasn’t been in the winner’s circle since her ATC Oaks victory last year. She should run another honest race but the main reason I haven’t included her is that I can see her being shuffled back throughout – I’d actually have preferred her drawn out wider. I think she might be left with too much to do so will leave her out, albeit begrudgingly.

And then there were four – The Cleaner, Fawkner, Silent Achiever and Side Glance.

Fawkner is the logical selection – he’s flying, he’s adaptable, he’ll get the trip no concerns, he’ll get a nice run. Everything points to him as this year’s Cox Plate winner, trying to become the first horse since Might and Power to win the Cox Plate the year after the Caulfield Cup.

However, my instincts are telling me The Cleaner – the Lion of Longford – can complete the fairytale. The story is ready-made for hopeless romantics – the widower and his best mate, the battler, the underdog. The pride and joy of Longford. But forget the story for a moment, because stories don’t win races.

He makes his own luck, he sets up races to suit him. They all have to get past him, and while they are classier horses than what he has met before, it’s going to be a different race for most of them than what they’ve experienced before.

For that reason, I’m putting The Cleaner on top of Fawkner.

I do think Silent Achiever will improve, as long as they stick to their original plan to settle closer to the speed. If she can be fifth or sixth, one off the speed, I think she’ll surprise a few people. I also think Moonee Valley might suit her.

And I think Side Glance is the sort of honest type that will be able to withstand the pressure here.

Hopefully, the race is run the way we’ve predicted, otherwise there could be a lot of egg to clean off after the race!

6 – THE CLEANER
2 – FAWKNER
9 – SILENT ACHIEVER
3 – SIDE GLANCE

Race 9 – GROUP 3 ELIZA PARK INTERNATIONAL STAKES (1600m)

2 – TANGO’S DAUGHTER
7 – JESSY BELLE
4 – SUAVITO
1 – GYPSY DIAMOND

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