Fresh off the win in last week’s Caulfield Cup on Japanese stayer Admire Rakti, Zac Purton is keen on his chances of winning another major Spring Racing Carnival feature with Sacred Falls, who has the right Cox Plate form heading into the weight for age championship at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Purton has ridden Sacred Falls on five occasions and has been successful twice in the Group 1 $3m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick during the Sydney Autumn Carnival and in the Group 1 $350,000 George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick earlier in the Spring.
But it was Sacred Falls second to It’s A Dundeel in the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on the second day of ‘The Championships’ that has given Purton confidence heading into Saturday’s Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m).
“After one of the highlights of my riding career winning last Saturday’s Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup, I am hoping I can secure another of Australian racing’s big three in Saturday’s Sportingbet Cox Plate,” Purton wrote in his Blog for Racing.com.
“Although the obvious question is whether he will run a strong 2040 metres, my gut feeling is that he will. It is on the outer limit of his capabilities but you only have to look at his run in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) during the autumn in Sydney which was run at a really strong tempo.”
“Because he’s been in that race which was run at a strong pace with high pressure and he handled it well, I have confidence that he will be able to do it again.”
Trainer Chris Waller stepped Sacred Falls up to the 2000m last start in the Group 1 $400,000 Cathay Pacific Caulfield Stakes at Caulfield a fortnight ago and Purton was more than happy with the way the five year old got to the line to finish fourth behind Cox Plate rivals Fawkner, Criterion and Side Glance.
“In his latest start in the Caulfield Stakes I thought he hit the line as well as anything else and he’s basically taking on the same horses again here,” wrote Purton, who is the reigning Hong Kong Jockey Club premier jockey.
Sacred Falls has drawn a bit awkwardly at nine in the fourteen horse Cox Plate field, but Purton has mapped out a race plan which he hopes will overcome the minor setback.
“I was hoping for something better than barrier nine but I feel as though we should be able to find a nice position without too much trouble with the solid pace being set up front,” he wrote.
“He’s a horse that’s been specifically targeted for this race this preparation and everything has fallen into place along the way and I have no doubt that he’ll be ready.”
Scared Falls has drifted slightly in the Cox Plate market order since the barrier draw on Tuesday and is now marked as a $7.50 chance with Ladbrokes.com.au.
Last start Caulfield Stakes winner Fawkner is the $4.50 favourite ahead of the Irish galloper Adelaide at $6.50 and the David Payne trained Criterion who is also well in contention at $7.00 following his first class effort when second to Fawkner at Caulfield.
Last year’s Cox Plate runner up Happy Trails and the consistent Royal Descent are both at $11 with super Kiwi mare Silent Achiever at $13 and The Cleaner at $14.