Cox Vox – Why the Plate is racing’s hottest ticket

Winx Crowd
The crowds surrounding Winx’s stall had to be seen to be believed at Moonee Valley.

THE Cox Plate is one of the most-attended race days of the Melbourne spring, but the chance to witness history in person has seen an unprecedented number of patrons on course this year.

The headline act of the day is Chris Waller’s wondermare Winx, and never-before-seen crowds were on hand to witness the six-year-old attempt to create history by equaling Kingston Town’s record of three Cox Plate wins.

For the first-time in the race’s history the event is sold out, with crowds bigger than you would typically see at a mid-week meeting at Pakenham surrounding the stables just to catch a glimpse, and a selfie, of Winx.

Tony Stephens was prepared to brave the public storm to find a spot on the fence to get a photo of the mare, stating he’d been there since midday.

“She’s why we’re all here,” Stephens told

“I reckon there’s more to see her rock up to the stable then there was to watch race one, and you can’t blame them either.

“We’ve seen Black Caviar dominate and now it’s Winx. It’s special to be here.”

Stephens said he won’t be investing on the race, instead saving the betting for any of the other nine races on the card.

“Look, you could say she’s overs at the $1.15, $1.20 mark, I don’t see her losing, but this is racing and anything can happen.

“I’m just here to see a crack at immortality.”

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While the battle-hardened punters were drawn to the course to see what could be the greatest horse in Cox Plate history, many casual fans streamed through the gates just to be part of the phenomenon that is Winx.

One of the casuals on course was Sarah Jacobson, who said she was attending a race in person just to “see what all the fuss is about”.

“This is my first visit to the Valley outside the night races and it is definitely a different vibe today,” Jacobson said.

“All you see, hear and read is Winx this and Winx that. It was worth the line up just to get a look at her.

“I won’t be betting on Winx, but I’m happy to be here and see what could be history.”

In what would be a huge boost to the Moonee Valley Race Club, the allure of the day could potentially bring these casual fans back.

Would it take Winx coming back to bring through a sell-out crowd? Perhaps that is the case, but if Shane Johnston is to believed, there is another reason the Cox Plate draws the record numbers.

“It’s all about Daryl Braithwaite mate, that’s what it’s all about,” Johnston said.

“You ever hear the Cox Plate crowd belt out Horses? It’s something else.

“Perfect time to do it, later in the day, the tins are sunk and people are ready to sing.

Horses is as much a part of the Cox Plate as Winx or anyone else.”

Whether it’s being part of history, seeing a superstar in-person or belting out an old classic, there’s no question the Cox Plate was the must-attend racing event of 2017.

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