A runner-by-runner guide to the 2015 Cox Plate with free tips

Cox Plate 2015

THE world’s greatest weight-for-age race is almost upon us and it has attracted a stellar field of Australia’s and Europe’s best thoroughbreds.

The $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate will run this Saturday at Moonee Valley in Melbourne, Australia and the field of 14 features a wide range of group 1 winners from all across the globe.

Our runner-by-runner preview with give punters all the info they need to make an informed bet in the Cox Plate and we have the updated bookmaker odds for all runners.

With the current favourite paying $5.50 at CrownBet.com.au, there is plenty of value with every runner so open an account and get involved in the Melbourne Spring carnival.


1. Criterion – $6 (out from $5.50)

Trainer: David Hayes/Tom Dabernig
Jockey: Michael Walker
Form: 213561

Criterion is a world-class horse which has traveled the world and it’s only a five-year-old. The son of Sebring won the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth during The Championships at Randwick this year which prompted David Hayes to make the decision to race overseas.

It failed to score a win in either Hong Kong or England, but its effort for third behind Blazing Speed in the QEII Cup at Sha Tin was full of merit.

It returned to Australia last start and it couldn’t have been more impressive when winning the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes over Happy Trails and 2015 Caulfield Cup winner Mongolian Khan.

It has won and placed twice when second up and although it didn’t finish in the money at its only Moonee Valley run, it would have benefited from that effort and it has class on its side.

Michael Walker gets his chance at another group 1 win and Criterion should give him a great sight.

Projected finish: 5th

2. Fawkner – $17 (out from $16)

Trainer: Robert Hickmott
Jockey: Damien Oliver
Form: 20×126

The eight-year-old is coming off a very disappointing effort for sixth in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes, but reports state the track was too dry.

The son of Reset was a good winner fresh up in the Group 1 Makybe Diva at Flemington before finishing second behind Mourinho at Caulfield.

It hasn’t received the best barrier draw of 14, but it won the Makybe Diva from barrier 11 so it is an adaptable type and jockey Damien Oliver can work his magic.

It would prefer rain to come, being undefeated in four runs on rain-affected ground, but there is a little moisture around and it has finished out of the money only twice in five starts at the Valley.

It has won in excess of $3.7 million and that class must be respected despite it drifting in the betting.

Projected finish: 6th

3. Happy Trails – $21

Trainer: Paul Beshara
Jockey: Mark Zahra
Form: x60502

Happy Trails has won only seven from 55 attempts, but it is progressing nicely towards this run after finishing second in the Caulfield Stakes last start.

The Paul Beshara-trained gelding hasn’t started in single-figure odds at its last five starts and it won’t again here, which means punters of this runner usually get good value.

Its winning percentage is a big concern and it hasn’t won for some time now, but the blinking light was on last start and its record at Moonee Valley is decent.

In seven runs here it has won once with three placings, and its best performances have come on a good track. This distance is ideal and it will likely get back from barrier 13 and try circle the field to produce its very good late sprint.

Not on the front line of winning hopes, but a good effort wouldn’t surprise.

Projected finish: 14th

4. Hartnell – $17 (out from $15)

Trainer: John O’Shea
Jockey: James McDonald
Form: 114×46

The five-year-old import was the boom horse last campaign after winning both the Group 3 Sky High Stakes at Rosehill followed by the Group 1 BMW where it beat classy Japanese runner To The World by 1.75 lengths.

It hasn’t won in three starts since which included a run at Randwick as a $1.65 favourite, but it did run on well enough in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes last start and Godolphin runners should always be respected in big races.

The son of Authorized gets James McDonald in the saddle and it has a nice barrier draw of three, but it needed to show us a little something this preparation to be considered a winning chance.

Projected finish: 8th

5. Mourinho – $34 (out from $31)

Trainer: Peter Gelagotis
Jockey: Vlad Duric
Form: 10×161

Connections were disappointed when Mourinho missed out on a Cox Plate start this year, but it gets a chance of redemption here.

The Peter Gelagotis-trained gelding has had a wonderful yet underrated season, even though it won the Group 1 Underwood at its last start.

It has a great record at Moonee Valley with five wins and three placings from 12 starts so that works in its favour, and its distance records reads similar.

Drawing barrier 12 wasn’t the best as it likes to race on the speed, but there might not be much early speed so it could cross them easily.

A last start group 1 winner doesn’t deserve to be paying $34 on a track which it excels at. Value runner of the field.

Projected finish: 7th

6. The Cleaner – $19 (out from $17)

Trainer: Mick Burles
Jockey: Noel Callow
Form: 45×213

The pride of Tasmania has been in very good form this season and it’s another runner which has flown under the radar for punters.

The eight-year-old fan-favourite resumed this campaign with a second in the Group 2 Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield before winning the Group 2 Feehan Stakes at odds of $5.50.

It then adopted its usual front-running tactics last start in the Group 1 Underwood and it was only narrowly beaten by Mourinho on the line.

Its tactics are obvious and it will lead the field from barrier two, but if it gets an easy time of it in front, the Moonee Valley track allows front runners to kick strongly off the tight bend.

This is evident in The Cleaner’s track record of eight starts for five wins and two placings, so don’t discount it because it’s the Cox Plate.

Projected finish: 9th

7. Pornichet – $41 (out from $34)

Trainer: Gai Waterhouse
Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy
Form: 1×2638

The tough Gai Waterhouse-trained horse was only average in its last run at Caulfield, but its form prior was consistent and against some high quality opposition.

The seven-win son of Vespone has performed well in the past when winning the Group 1 Doomben Cup by beating the likes of Weary by 2.25 lengths and it finished third behind race-rival Kermadec in the Group 1 George Main Stakes.

This is a very tough race, but it has the ability to sit on the speed. It has the class, but this might be one step too far for a runner which hasn’t won a race this campaign.

Projected finish: 13th

8. Arod – $9

Trainer: Peter Chapple-Hyam
Jockey: Craig Williams
Form: x23112

This talented five-year-old comes into the Cox Plate having finish second behind Solow in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

The son of Teofilo has an excellent formline heading into this with a Group 2 Summer Mile win at Ascot two back and a two-length win at Epsom the start prior.

It is unbeaten in two starts at this distance which is key as its last two runs have come over the shorter mile distance and drawing barrier five will allow it to find a nice spot in the running.

Any form behind the talented middle distance horse Solow is good form for the Cox Plate and punters have supported Arod well throughout the week.

It’s currently paying $9, which is a good price on exposed form and it could well grab some of the money this Saturday.

Projected finish: 3rd

9. Complacent – $19 (out from $17)

Trainer: John O’Shea
Jockey: James Doyle
Form: 2×0131

The in-form Complacent missed a run in the Caulfield Cup, but it has a strong chance in the Cox Plate after winning the Group 3 Craven Plate at Randwick.

The five-year-old was a Victoria Derby placegetter just five starts ago, but an injury forced it to the sidelines for almost two years.

It has come back in great order and although the high pressure race like a Cox Plate might be a little too soon for it, you must respect what it has done so far in its career. It defeated Kermadec by 1.25 lengths three starts back in the Group 2 Chelmsford and that form should stack up well for this.

It hasn’t yet raced at Moonee Valley, but trainer John O’Shea is confident and many horses have won having their first start around the tight-turning track.

Projected finish: 10th

10. Gailo Chop – $31

Trainer: Antoine de Watrigant
Jockey: Brad Rawiller
Form: 1x28x1

The least-fancied of the international runners at odds of $31, but that’s pretty good value for a runner which won its last start by four lengths.

The five-year-old from France won at group 3 level on a heavy track and even though its statistics show it’s best suited on rain-affected ground, it has won three from seven on a good track with two placings.

It was good enough to demolish a classy field in a group 2 race in France where it beat Free Port Lux by 3.5 lengths. That’s good enough form to win any race around the world and it’s a four-time winner over this distance.

It has finished out of the money in only two of 12 career starts, so the $31 available looks like nice value, but it is facing some quality thoroughbreds and the lack of tote support is a major worry.

Projected finish: 12th

11. Kermadec – $7.50

Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Glen Boss
Form: 1×5214

The once Cox Plate favourite has drifted significantly in betting, but it still remains one of the major winning hopes.

The Chris Waller-trained horse didn’t quite fire last start at Caulfield, but the race wasn’t run to suit and the track was slightly too hard for it.

The classy four-year-old won the Group 1 Doncaster Mile at Randwick in April by beating Real Impact by 1.75 lengths and its win in the Group 1 George Main was a good guide for this.

It has the ability to sit anywhere in the field and still kick strongly in the straight, but ideally Waller will be wanting it mid-field with the chance to pull out wide around the home turn.

It does take a fair while to wind up, which can be a problem at Moonee Valley, but class will take it a long way and loyal punters will be enjoying the $7.50 available.

Projected finish: 4th

12. Preferment – $13

Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Nash Rawiller
Form: 28×011

Preferment has come on leaps and bounds its last two starts, winning both and booking its spot in the Cox Plate.

The well bred son by Zabeel won the Group 2 Hill Stakes at Randwick two back by beating the well regarded Magic Hurricane and it backed that up with a powerful win in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington.

Even though its last two wins came over 2000 metres, it does look a natural improver over more ground and the distances at Moonee Valley usually play out a touch shorter due to the shape of the track.

It is concerning that it will get slightly too far back and it won’t have the Randwick or Flemington straight to warm up. In order to win from behind at the Valley, horses must start their runs early and go very wide around the home turn. We can’t see Preferment gathering enough momentum to overhaul some of the quicker milers.

Projected finish: 11th

13. Highland Reel – $5.50

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien
Jockey: Ryan Moore
Form: 625115

The best of the internationals on exposed form and the amount of support it has received in the market is telling.

The same trainer/jockey combination will try go back-to-back after Adelaide won the 2014 Cox Plate and ‘they’ say that Highland Reel is a much better chance than Adelaide was.

The four-year-old has won four from nine and its most recent win came in the U.S where it won the Group 1 Secretariat at Arlington.

It then raced in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes where it finished 3.8 lengths behind Golden Horn, but Golden Horn would probably start the Cox Plate as the $2 favourite.

Its form is good, without being extraordinary, but the betting suggests it’s a great winning chance and it will get every opportunity from barrier four with the champion jockey in the saddle.

Expecting Highland Reel to be very tough to beat and the $5.50 might not last long.

Projected finish: 1st

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14. Winx – $6 (in from $6.50)

Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Hugh Bowman
Form: 211×11

Winx is probably the most exciting runner in the field after the majority of its wins have come with barnstorming finishes down the outside.

The Chris Waller-trained mare has an electrifying sprint at the end of its races, as it showed when winning the Group 1 Epsom Handicap last start.

There have been some questions asked about what quality of opposition it has faced this campaign, but it can only beat what’s in front of it and it has done so impressively.

Hugh Bowman was happy with barrier one and he said they would like the tempo to be even so it can show its devastating turn-of-foot.

If everything goes right for Winx, we’re expecting a strong effort with only 55.5kg on its back.

Projected finish: 2nd

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