Awesome Rock is considered a rank outsider in 2016 Cox Plate betting markets, but co-trainer Troy Corstens believes that the horse is ready to lay a great account for himself in the feature race on Saturday.
Awesome Rock is one of only two runners in the ten-horse Cox Plate field who is yet to post a win at the highest level of racing, but the five-year-old has returned to competition in typically smart form this time and is drawn ideally for the Moonee Valley feature in barrier 5.
Having won ballot-free entry into the Cox Plate 2016 with a dominant win in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) last month, Corstens believes that the Fastnet Rock entire’s love of the Moonee Valley surface could prove decisive on Saturday.
“We’re very happy,” Corstens told Racing Ahead.
“It’s really good (barrier 5) and the other thing is that he’s probably one of the last to go into the gates which I think is always a bit of an advantage too.
“We’re going to go forward and be very positive out of the gates. That’s how he’s raced best over 2000m in the past and been very effective.
“He loves the surface here. He had a light gallop here this morning, didn’t do too much and just gets around this corner really nicely.”
Corstens concedes that Awesome Rock faces a big task in overcoming the talent-rich Cox Plate field on Saturday and said that the team will be thrilled if the horse can close out the race nicely.
“Anything can happen, can’t it? Winx and Hartnell are very good horses, there’s no doubting that but they’re out there to be beaten and we’re going to see what he can do,” he said.
“We’re in it for the fight and our owners are looking forward to it as much as Winx and Hartnell’s I suppose, but if we can run top three or four we’d be ecstatic.”
Awesome Rock has posted three wins and a further seven minors through his twenty-three competitive starts since debuting to racing in the autumn of 2014.
Clearly requiring a run when resuming this year for twelfth in the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m), Awesome Rock ran a handy fourth in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) and was first past the post in the featured Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) on March 12th, only to lose the race to Preferment on protest.
Having followed up his Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes win a credible fifth in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m), Awesome Rock carried a race-high 58kgs to fifth in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) a fortnight ago.
Awesome Rock is currently available at 2016 Cox Plate odds of $67 with Ladbrokes Australia.