Gai Waterhouse is aiming to give herself two chances of winning the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday with her three year olds Almalad and Wandjina.
A win in the Cox Plate would complete the big four ‘Grand Slam’ for Waterhouse who has won five Golden Slippers with Ha Ha (2001), Dance Hero (2004), Sebring (2008), Pierro (2012) and Overreach (2013), the Caulfield Cup with Descarado in 2010 and last year’s Melbourne Cup with European import Fiorente.
Fiorente came close last year for Waterhouse when he ran a brave race to finish half a length third to the three year old Shamus Award and Manhattan Rain ran second to So You Think in 2009.
While Almalad will be assured a start after winning the Group 1 $500,000 Tatts Group J.J. Atkins (1600m) at Eagle Farm during the Brisbane Winter Carnival and then returned to the winner’s stall at Moonee Valley two runs back in winning the Group 2 $200,000 Jeep Stutt Stakes (1600m).
The connections of Wandjina paid the $130,000 Cox Plate late entry fee after the Snitzel colt ran third to Shooting To Win in the Group 1 $1m BECK Caulfield Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield on October 11 and Waterhouse is hoping the Moonee Valley Racing Club committee include him in the final field.
“He has got to get in,” Waterhouse said.
“The owners have paid the late-entry fee — $130,000 — and if he gets in he’ll give everyone a real surprise.
“Look at last year. Shamus Award was a maiden. The form of Wandjina has been outstanding.
“He is not a blow-in. He ran third in the Guineas and he should be there. He’s as tough as teak, he ran three weeks in a row.
“I’m really surprised how well Wandjina came out of the Guineas, he just copped it on the chin.
“And I can’t fault the other horse ( Almalad). What’s he done wrong? Nothing, he went mad on him that day in the Guineas.
“Almalad is such a consistent horse. I worked the pair of them yesterday and I could not be happier with how they worked.”
Waterhouse is comparing Wandjina to Shamus Award who won the Cox Plate last year as a three year old after running third to Long John in the Caulfield Guineas at his previous start.
Almalad at $41 and Wandjina at $67 are two of the outsiders of the Cox Plate in pre post betting at Ladbrokes.com.au who have last year’s Caulfield Cup winner Fawkner the $4 early favourite.
The Aidan O’Brien trained super Irish horse Adelaide shares the second line of betting with Chris Waller’s multiple Group 1 winner Sacred Falls at $6, closely followed by Criterion at $8 and last year’s Cox Plate runner-up Happy Trails at $9.