The Cox Plate was confirmed as the primary target for a number of star horses following the third round of acceptances today.
Imports Manighar and Green Moon had previously remained in contention for the Caulfield Cup but connections of both horses chose only to accept for the $3 million Cox Plate (2040m).
Green Moon stamped his readiness to take on Gai Waterhouse-trained stars Pierro and More Joyous in Australia’s premier weight-for-age race when producing a strong win in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday.
It will be the Lloyd Williams-owned five-year-old’s first attempt at the Cox Plate after running second in the Caulfield Cup last year.
Peter Moody has stated throughout the spring that Manighar’s major goal would be the Cox Plate and his withdrawal from the Caulfield Cup suggests the leading trainer is confident he is a genuine contender.
Moody had previously stated he would revert to the Caulfield Cup if he didn’t think Manighar could win the Cox Plate, with the acceptance allaying fears that the star import may not be at his best this spring.
After a tight second first-up in the Makybe Diva Stakes Manighar was flat when sixth in the Underwood Stakes but gets a chance to get his spring back on track in the Caulfield Stakes this Saturday.
2011 placegetter Rekindled Interest was a distant 10th in the Turnbull Stakes but trainer Jim Conlan has elected to press on with his Cox Plate campaign.
Chris Waller has accepted with multiple Group 1 winner Shoot Out who will head to the Mackinnon Stakes if the Sydney trainer decides the Cox Plate will be too difficult a task.
Along with Pierro and More Joyous, Gai Waterhouse has chosen to accept with Metropolitan winner Glencadam Gold and three-year-old Proisir who was runner-up to New Zealand colt It’s A Dundeel in the Spring Champion Stakes.
Notable horses who did not accept for the Cox Plate include Turnbull Stakes third placegetter December Draw, the unbeaten It’s A Dundeel and the Caulfield Cup-bound Secret Admirer.