Should 2022 Cox Plate be limited to three horses? | Punt Drunk

Peter Griffin thinking - Punt Drunk

Punt Drunk takes a look back over the weekend that was, which saw some of our best horses race. Eduardo paid ridiculous odds and won like Winx, the Queensland form rang true once again in Melbourne, and the return of two horses got us thinking: could the Cox Plate be a three-horse match race this year?


A few punters that were keen on the nation’s second-best sprinter on Saturday were given an absolute gift when Eduardo drifted to $2.90 with online bookmakers for his first-up run in the Concorde Stakes. Despite the track pattern and conditions playing perfectly into his hands, the bookies were keen to take him on all day long. We don’t want to sound like post-race experts – we aren’t, we did actually tip him – but when he got out from $1.95 to $2.90 even with the scratching of Masked Crusader, it looked too good to be true. It wasn’t. The nine-year-old led the small field and kicked away to win by a comfortable 2.5 lengths. Seriously, how did they bet that?


You thought we were joking? Queensland form is simply superior*. Uncommon James and Shooting For Gold were two Queenslanders who took home the spoils in their recent Victorian runs, but on Saturday at Moonee Valley, the statement was once again franked. The Group 2 McEwan Stakes featured some top Victorian sprinters, including the short-priced Coolangatta from the Maher & Eustace barn. However, it was once again the Queenslanders who stole the show.

After bombing the start, Tony Gollan’s speedster Zoustyle whipped through underneath to lead before slipping away on the turn. While he looked home, it was the other Queenslander, Rothfire, who was storming home over the top. Rob Heathcote’s Group 1 star hadn’t won for two years, but he was able to return to the winner’s stall in fine style. Now a $6 joint favourite with Australian betting sites for the Group 1 Moir Stakes, we have to start wondering: just how far will he win it by?

(*There could be some one-eyed bias involved with this statement.)


The Cox Plate has always been known as Australia’s best race. Run at weight-for-age over 2040m around Moonee Valley, the honour roll consists of some of the best horses to ever grace the turf.

But, in 2022, we are starting to worry that our once-great race has lost its touch. Last year’s edition was made epic due to the ding-dong battle between State Of Rest and Anamoe both on the track and in the stewards’ room, but the small field didn’t really build the hype of previous years when the likes of Sunline, So You Think and Winx were going around.

This year’s edition could be a bit thin, too, with no returning champion, no internationals and maybe not much depth. So, would we be better of running the 2022 Cox Plate with just three in it?

Last year’s runner-up and arguably the best horse in the country, Anamoe, would be one of the three. He’s out for redemption and looks like he’s come back better than ever after his first-up Winx Stakes victory.

Zaaki went into the 2021 Cox Plate as an odds-on favourite, but he recorded a high temperature on the Saturday morning and was scratched as a result. Annabel Neasham has aimed him at the 2022 edition since that day, and his first-up win in the Tramway Stakes on Saturday suggests he’s right on track.

Rounding out the field would be Mr Brightside. He won the P.B. Lawrence Stakes first-up and then trounced his rivals in the Feehan Stakes on Saturday at Moonee Valley. The win in the Feehan gave him ballot exemption for the Cox Plate, and while the 2040m is an unknown for the Ben & JD Hayes-trained gelding, we are confident he will get it.

Three in-form weight-for-age stars doing battle on the greatest stage of all. Leave the stragglers out of it, we say.

Punt Drunk

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