2017 Cox Plate invitee Highland Reel won his sixth Group 1 race with a tough victory in the £750,000 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (1 mile, 2 furlongs) on day two of the five day Royal Ascot Carnival in England on Wednesday.
The Aidan O’Brien trained Highland Reel is one of eight international horses that have been invited by the Moonee Valley Racing Club to run in the this year’s Group 1 $3m Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 28 and the champion Irish trainer hasn’t ruled out another trip down under.
The widely travelled Highland Reel ventured to Australia in 2015 and put in a brave performance to finish five and a half lengths third to Winx in the first of her two history making Cox Plate wins.
O’Brien claimed his 300th Group 1 win when Ryan Moore urged Highland Reel to the line to score a one a quarter lengths win over the Roger Charlton trained Decorated Knight who is also on the 2017 Ladbrokes Cox Plate invitee’s list.
Highland Reel showed great courage in the straight and after being headed at the one furlong mark, found plenty in reserve under Moore to edge away close to the line to score a decisive win.
“We were hoping courage would come into it,” O’Brien said.
“He’s unbelievably courageous.
“It’s what his dad had that made him different to every other horse we’ve had, and he has it tenfold. If the pace is strong he doesn’t give up, if it comes to bravery I’ve never seen him wanting.”
The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes was Highland Reel’s sixth Group 1 win and back to back Group 1 wins for the Galileo five year old who was coming off a last start win in the Group 1 £420,000 Coronation Cup (1 mile 4 furlongs) at Epsom Downs in England on June 2.
O’Brien has no qualms about travelling Highland Reel around the world with the stallion having raced in seven different countries with Group 1 wins in three of them, England, America and Hong Kong as well as competing at Group 1 level in Ireland, Australia, France and Dubai.
Early betting for the 2017 Ladbrokes Cox Plate at Ladbrokes.com.au has the Chris Waller trained Winx marked as the $1.50 favourite to win her third successive ‘Weight For Age Championship’ ahead of Highland Reel and the top class Japanese galloper Makahiki at $15.
Early market order for the 2017 Ladbrokes Cox Plate at Ladbrokes.com.au: $1.50 Winx, $15 Highland Reel, Makahiki, $21 Ribchester, Werther, $26 Egg Tart, Mekhtaal, Neorealism, $34 Articus, Decorated Knight, Exospheric, Gingernuts, Hartnell, Omei Sword, Redkirk Warrior, Scales Of Justice, Scottish, Tosen Stardom, Yankee Rose, $41 or better the rest.