Coolmore Australia Racing Manager James Bester has revealed that he believes Highland Reel could be a better horse than last year’s Cox Plate winner Adelaide.
Highland Reel has followed a similar path to the Cox Plate and he also won the Group 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington in the United States, but he was also placed behind Prix De l’Arc De Triomphe winner New Bay in the Group 1 Prix Du Jockey Club (2100m) at Chantilly in France and he was far from disgraced behind Golden Horn in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on September 12.
Bester told RSN that he does not like to compare horses from season to season, but he eventually admitted that his gut feeling is that Highland Reel is a better horse than Adelaide and can deliver Coolmore back-to-back Cox Plate victories this weekend.
“He is a horse that was identified by Aidan O’Brien and the Coolmore team as being exactly the sort of horse that fits the profile of the Cox Plate – much like Adelaide was last year,” Bester said.
“He loves fast ground, he has the required class over ten furlongs, he can stay 12 furlongs and he is as good as Adelaide.
“My gut feel is that he is better.
“He has form behind the Arc winner in The Champion Stakes and the form he has represents the best form in Europe.
“That certainly puts this horse in a very good position for a race like this.”
Adelaide was famously settled at the tail of the field by jockey Ryan Moore in the early stages of the Cox Plate before he started his long run for home at the 1000 metre mark, but Bester confirmed that Highland Reel will not follow similar tactics.
Bester said that Highland Reel has far more tactical speed than Highland Reel and will be able to settle right on the speed in the early stages of the 2015 Cox Plate, but still has the ability to sustain a long run.
“Highland Reel is a more on-pace runner,” Bester said
“He leaves the gates a little quicker and he gets into his stride a little quicker.
“I expect to see him taking up a more forward position.
“I would say from that draw and with The Cleaner inside of him and a horse like Arod outside of him who goes forward himself then I would expect to see this horse in the first half of the field anyway.”
Highland Reel is currently available at 2015 Cox Plate odds of $5 with Ladbrokes and he remains outright favourite from Winx ($6.50), Criterion ($6.50), Kermadec ($8) and Arod ($8.50).
You can score the best Cox Plate odds for Highland Reel or any other runner in the Cox Plate field with Ladbrokes, who are offering Best Tote or Starting Price +20% on every race at Moonee Valley on Saturday.