Trainer Peter Gelagotis could face more disappointment this year if his Group 1 winner Mourinho is eliminated from the final field for the Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley again.
The final field for Saturday’s Cox Plate is declared on Tuesday morning and at current calculations Mourinho is border line of making the final fourteen.
Gelagotis and connections were keen to run Mourinho in the 2014 Cox Plate and paid a late entry fee of $100,000 but was eliminated from the final field following the decision of the Moonee Valley Racing Club’s committee.
The committee looks like it will have to make an another decisive call this again this year and Mourinho could be the one to miss out again even though he is racing in outstanding form with a win three starts in the Group 2 $200,000 Back To Caulfield P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 15 and a last start win in the Group 1 $400,000 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 26.
“He is the most improved horse in Australia. I don’t want to sound cocky but we are pretty confident he will get a run,” Gelagotis told the Herald Sun.
“Everybody has an opinion. We have no qualms with the decision last year. We had a shy at the stumps, saying give us a chance. But we didn’t have the CV, but this year we do.
“If you look at the last half-a-dozen races of each of the candidates we have performed as well as if not better than most.
“I am so confident and we are progressing as if we are going into the race.”
Even though Tasmanian trained front runner The Cleaner is yet to win at Group 1 level, he will be included in the Cox Plate field after winning the exempt free Group 2 $250,000 the line to finish ninth behind Irish super star Adelaide who was trained by Ireland’s leading trainer Aidan O’Brien.
The David Hayes and Tom Dabernig trained Criterion is also exempt from the ballot after winning the Group 1 $400,000 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 10.
That was Criterion’s first run back in Australia after an unsuccessful overseas campaign that saw him run third in the Group 1 HK$20m Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) a Sha Tin, Hong Kong, on April 26, fifth in the Group 1 £525,000 The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (1 mile, 2 furlongs) at Royal Ascot in England on June 17 and sixth in the Group 1 £900,000 Juddmonte International Stakes (1 mile 2 furlongs 88 yards) at York on August 19.
Before he left for Hong Kong, Criterion proved himself as the top weight for age performer during the Sydney Autumn Carnival with a convincing win in the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 11, the second day of ‘The Championships’.
If you are having a bet on Cox Plate Day you can get over the odds by taking advantage of Ladbrokes Cox Plate Day Special Offer of Best Tote or SP + 20% on every race at Moonee Valley this Saturday up to a maximum bet of $50
Criterion and the O’Brien trained Highland Reel share the top spot in the Cox Plate market order at $5.50 each with Ladbrokes.com.au.
The Chris Waller pair of Winx, $6, and Kermadec, $6.50, are next in the betting with the stable’s third runner Preferment at $13 alongside of last year’s Cox Plate runner up Fawkner.
English galloper Arod is quoted a $9 while Mourinho is way down in the order at $26 with the Gai Waterhouse trained Pornichet and John O’Shea’s Complacent.