After connections at Qatar Racing Limited ruled out a trip down under for a 2015 Cox Plate bid with one time favourite Arod late last week, Australasia’s weight-for-age championship in October is back on the agenda for the stallion.
Arod led futures betting at Ladbrokes.com.au for the $3 million Group 1 William Hill Cox Plate (2040m), running at Moonee Valley Racecourse on October 24, until the English four-year-old was ruled out by owner Sheikh Fahad last Friday.
A winner of four of his 11 starts to date, the Teofilo stallion won the Group 2 Summer Mile (1609m) at Ascot in July before a brave second when carrying a hefty 61kg to cross a half-length off the French-trained winner Solow in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes (1609m) at Goodwood last time.
Trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam and owners paid the Cox Plate first acceptance just days before taking the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival classic off the agenda due to the strict quarantine regulations in Australia.
“(The) Quarantine rules need looking at,” Fahad told Racing Post Bloodstock.
“We have the right horse for the Cox Plate in Arod but he can’t go as he runs in the Moulin.”
The Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (1600m) ran on Sunday, but Arod was scratched from the line-up due to a soft-rated Longchamp track.
David Redvers from Qatar Racing has since confirmed the Cox Plate is almost certainly back on the ace international galloper’s program this preparation.
“[He is] 95 per cent certain [to enter quarantine for the Cox Plate,” Redvers told the Racing Post.
All-in Cox Plate betting is currently led by last weekend’s Makybe Diva Stakes winner Fawkner ($10), the Robert Hickmott-trained Reset eight-year-old second to Adelaide in last year’s edition.
Arod is at $13 for the win along with the likes of the John O’Shea-trained High Chaparral stallion Contributer and Chris Waller’s Epsom Handicap top fancy Winx who won the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill over the weekend at Sydney’s Golden Rose Day.
The other internationally-trained Cox Plate first acceptors this season are $11 second fancy Highland Reel, Cougar Mountain ($17), Galio Chop ($21), Lightning Spear ($34) and Ol’ Man River ($61).
Highland Reel won the Group 1 Secretariat Stakes (2012m) at Arlington in the USA in mid-August before a last start fifth to Golden Horn in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes (2012m) last weekend and is Irish horseman Aidan O’Brien’s best hope of back-to-back Cox Plate victories after his success with Adelaide (2014).
O’Brien also prepares Fastnet Rock stallion Cougar Mountain who was last seen running dead last in the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes (2092m) on August 19 at York. 6
Cox Plate second acceptances close at midday on Tuesday September 22 followed by third declarations on October 6 and then the final field of acceptors on October 20 at a fee of $27,500.