Trainer Gai Waterhouse has revealed that she has set rising three-year-old Almalad for the 2014 Cox Plate that will be held at Moonee Valley on October 25 during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.
Almalad made his racing debut with a narrow victory in the Nuturf Plate (1000m) at Gosford on December 27 last year before returning to the races with a dominant three and a half lengths win in the TAB Early Quaddie Plate (1200m) at Royal Randwick on May 24.
Waterhouse elected to throw Almalad in the deep end at Group 1 level in the Group 1 J.J. Atkins (1600m) at Eagle Farm on June 7 and the son of Al Maher did plenty wrong during the running of the race, but was still able to fight off Brazen Beau and Looks Like The Cat in the final stages of the race to score a brave victory.
The leading Sydney trainer said that Almalad could contest both the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 13 and the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield on October 11 before stepping up to weight-for-age level for the Cox Plate.
“I will set him for the Cox Plate,” Waterhouse told Sky Racing HQ.
“I think that any of those horses that raced through those Group races in the winter are certainly horses that could contest the top races in Sydney and Melbourne.
“Three-year-olds have an outstanding record in the Cox Plate, absolutely outstanding.”
Almalad was sent straight to the spelling paddock after his victory in the J.J. Atkins and Waterhouse said that the two-year-old had returned to her stable in outstanding condition ahead of the start of his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign.
“He has come back into work,” Waterhouse said.
“He had a little let-up after that as all my Queensland horses did and he came back and he is really bouncing around Randwick.
“He is as fresh as a daisy and he is really going well.”
Waterhouse has won just about every major race on the Australian racing calendar, but the Cox Plate has been one race that has eluded her.
The leading lady in Australian racing has had eighteen runners in the Cox Plate, with Fiorente (2013), Pierro (2012), Manhattan Rain (2009), Lotteria (2005) and All Our Mob (1996) all finishing in the placings, but she has been unable to capture the Group 1 event.
Almalad is currently available at 2014 Cox Plate odds of $15 in the betting market with Ladbrokes Australia and he is on top of betting for the Caulfield Guineas.