The 2015 Cox Plate first acceptances have been released and leading international contenders Arod and Highland Reel both remain a chance to make a trip to Australia for the Group 1 event that will be held at Moonee Valley on October 24.
Arod started his 2015 racing season with strong efforts in the Group 3 Earl Of Sefton Stakes (1810m) at Newmarket on April 16 and the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes (1609m) at Newbury on May 16 before he stamped himself as a genuine Cox Plate contender with a strong win in the Group 3 Diomed Stakes (1713m) at Epsom Downs on June 5.
The Teofilo entire recorded another impressive win when he took out the Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes (1609m) during the 2015 Royal Ascot Meeting and he was only narrowly denied by the highly-talented Solow in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes (1609m) at Goodwood on July 29.
Highland Reel made a disappointing start to his own 2015 racing season when he finished sixth in the Group 1 Prix Le Parisien (1600m), but he returned to his best form with a second place finish behind New Bay in the Group 1 Prix Du Jockey Club (2100m) at Chantilly on May 31.
The Galileo entire was never able to get into the race when he finished fifth behind Jack Hobbs in the Group 1 Irish Derby (2414m) at Curragh on June 27, but he returned to winning form in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes (2414m) at Goodwood on July 29 before he rocketed up Cox Plate betting markets when he recorded a dominant five lengths win in the Group 1 Secretariat Stakes (2012m) at Arlington in the United States on August 15.
Highland Reel is joined in the 2015 Cox Plate first acceptances by stablemate Cougar Mountain, who has not been seen at the races since he finished seventh behind the likes of Arabian Queen, Golden Horn and Criterion in the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes (2092m) at York on August 19.
Cougar Mountain has been an inconsistent performer throughout his racing career, but he finished behind in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (1609m) at Royal Ascot on June 16 and he returned to winning form with a narrow victory in the Group 3 Desmond Stakes (1609m) at Leopardstown in Ireland on August 13.
The international entries in the Cox Plate will not have it their own way in the Australasian Weight-For-Age Championship and a number of the most talented weight-for-age horses in Australia have been included in the first acceptances.
Contributer failed to fire in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday, but he remains one of the most fancied locally-trained chances in the Cox Plate along with the likes of Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Criterion, last year’s runner-up Fawkner, Doncaster Mile winner Kermadec, Gai Waterhouse-trained Pornichet, the talented Alpine Eagle and Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes winner Alpine Eagle.
Golden Slipper winner Vancouver was not included in the 2015 Cox Plate first acceptances, but three-year-olds Iron Boss, Jameka, Last Bullet, Mr Individual, Mr Optimistic, Odyssey Moon, Payroll, Rageese, Press Statement, Snoopy and The Weald could all be lightweight chances in the Cox Plate field.
Other notable horses in the 2015 Cox Plate first acceptances include Arabian Gold, Complacent, Excess Knowledge, Fenway, Happy Trails, Hooked, Lucky Hussler, May’s Dream, Protectionist, Royal Descent and Rising Romance.