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Winx

Dual defending champion Winx is back for a record equaling third win in the 2017 Ladbrokes Cox Plate as the odds-on favourite at The Valley. Photo Credit: Ultimate Racing Photos.

The Ladbrokes Cox Plate Form Guide 2017 for Saturday’s Moonee Valley major is the most sought after reading material ahead of Winx chasing her third win in the weight-for-age classic.

The Winx race jumps at 5:00pm (AEDT) as Moonee Valley Race 9, this spring’s Group 1 $3 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) featuring nine horses in total.

Eight of those are running for second at best of course with the Chris Waller-trained Hall of Famer Winx odds-on at $1.16 through Ladbrokes.com.au to continue her winning streak.

She is chasing win number 22 on the trot after dominating proceedings at Headquarters, her debut at Flemington producing a shockingly effortless six and a half length Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) win.

Makybe Diva (2005) was the last Turnbull Stakes winner to back directly up and take out the Cox Plate.

Winx will be the next, surpassing triple Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva at the top of the Australian Racehorse Prizemoney list as she does so.

Speaking of triples, Winx will also join Kingston Town (1980-82) as the only other three-time Cox Plate winner in history when she salutes for the punters in front of a sold-out crowd of 30,000 at The Valley.

There is still a trifecta to predict however and below the HorseRacing.com.au team analyse the chances of all nine Cox Plate horses including Winx to help you sort the genuine contenders from the weight-for-age pretenders.

Happy Clapper

Patrick Webster-trained Teofilo seven-year-old comes back for round six with Winx. He has faced the mighty mare five times for five loses, but has finished in the money a couple of times. Most recently the George Main Stakes second in Sydney on September 16. That was his closest result (1.3 lengths beaten), but have a feeling he won’t be getting anywhere near that on Saturday. Moonee Valley isn’t this recent Epsom Handicap winner’s go. He flopped in the Cox Plate last year running 11 lengths back sixth and hasn’t been back since. Was meant to win the Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m) at Randwick on October 14, but was the beaten odds-on favourite behind Classic Uniform. He is a genuine miler. While consistent and genuine, he will be stretched again.

Gailo Chop

One of two Darren Weir-trained Cox Plate challengers facing Winx, both at $20 in the latest markets. Gets a gun run from barrier four with the in-form Mark Zahra in the saddle and the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) becomes an option should the in-form import finishing top three on Saturday. Has excellent form over the Cox Plate distance, his last start Group 1 Ladbrokes Stakes (2000m) win at Caulfield his sixth from nine goes over the range. The Valley? That’s the problem. Came here when French-trained in 2015 and ran eighth behind Winx as she set a track record, previously held by Might And Power. Won Flemington’s Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) after, so has class. Has continued to improve each run with Weir including the lead-up win over subsequent Caulfield Cup third placegetter Johannes Vermeer. If he is up on the pace, could prove himself at Moonee Valley, but think he might be better elsewhere.

Humidor

The surprise inclusion in the Cox Plate field for Weir after this Teofilo five-year-old ran in last weekend’s Caulfield Cup over the 2400m. Finished two and a half lengths fifth behind the upset winner Boom Time and gets the chance to atone. His record over this shorter distance is excellent, three wins, a second and a third from five starts. Flemington is where he is at his best however, not Moonee Valley. Won the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) in the autumn and the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) by over three lengths, defeating last year’s Cox Plate runner-up Hartnell, three back. Faced Winx and there was plenty of hype in the Turnbull Stakes, but he fizzled out running a distant third. Think he’ll be well beaten again come round two.

Kaspersky

Good barrier two draw for Jan Chapple-Hyam’s English raider. That is probably where the positives end. Michelle Payne, who rode $101 Melbourne Cup winner Prince Of Penzance to victory in 2015, is on the seven-year-old entire in place of Luke Nolen. Nolen rode the visitor first-up in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) when 16th behind Tosen Stardom. Didn’t impress there, yet to win over further than 1700m and the WFA challenge makes this even tougher. Hasn’t won since July of 2016 and don’t think he will be anywhere near Winx when the crowd cheers her home on Saturday.

Folkswood

The international raiders have won just one Cox Plate, Adelaide (2014), and with Winx in town that won’t change this weekend. The Charlie Appleby-trained Folkswood for Godolphin though is a big place chance after breaking his maiden status in Australia last time out. Won the Listed Cranbourne Cup (2025m), practically the Cox Plate distance, by nearly three lengths with Kerrin McEvoy aboard. McEvoy had the chance to jump off and ride the three-year-old lightweight hope Royal Symphony for his uncle, but opted to stick with the UK visitor. That could be a telling sign for punters and looking at the form, happy to back this one for a top three run even rising notably in class.

Seaburge

One of the last minute inclusions and a triple-figure outsider in betting, the Lindsay Park stable are chasing another boilover in a spring major after 50/1 shot Boom Time did it in last weekend’s Caulfield Cup. This four-year-old Sebring entire was thrashed when walking home over 20 lengths behind Humidor in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes two back, but was improving as a 60/1 roughie in the Toorak Handicap finishing just over two lengths away fifth. This is obviously a much harder task and he hasn’t won since taking out last year’s Group 2 VRC Sires’ Produce as a two-year-old at Flemington. The drought is as lengthy as his odds, but he only needs to beat home to take out $100,000 for eighth in the Cox Plate finishing order.

Hardham

Speaking of roughies, this now David Brideoake-trained son of Redoute’s Choice is the longest of the lot. That seems generous though going over the Cox Plate form and stats. A few things actually stack-up in favour of a top three performance. Unlike many in the mix, this four-year-old has winning form at the track and distance having saluted in the Group 2 Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) here in the autumn. Went on to finish under a length off Jon Snow for third in the Group 1 ATC Derby (2400m) after that on a mud track. Lead-up this time in is questionable, explaining the odds. Jumped $1.44 in the Inglis Cup (2000m) two back at Caulfield and didn’t win. Backed-up in the Caulfield Cup and was a flat 10th. Up notably in weight now, but back at The Valley, back in distance, Nolen aboard from barrier three? Not the worst to round out the trifecta.

Winx

Is there anything left to say about Chris Waller’s champion? Always! Winx is freak of the turf, her powerful movement and ability to finish off better than anything we’ve seen in a while has her starting the shortest in a Cox Plate since Phar Lap ($1.07 in 1931). She is a history maker and does things she shouldn’t, like win a second Cox Plate by eight lengths and return to join Kingston Town with a third. Hugh Bowman gets a dream run, left alone with all the room he needs early from barrier six. The rest will be fighting for a spot, she’ll be cruising. Come the 600m, Winx starts to wind-up through her gears and before anyone else gets a chance to challenge, she’ll be flying home to the roar of the crowd. Enjoy the Winx show.

Royal Symphony

The only other horse the punters are paying attention to in Cox Plate betting this year. Tony McEvoy saddles-up Domesday colt Royal Symphony who started his career with four straight wins before his first loss, a Guineas Prelude fourth. He was fourth again in the Group 1 Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas (1600m) last time out, the race won in an upset by $101 roughie Mighty Boss, beaten just over two lengths. Gets out over further than a mile for the first time, but the weight drop from 56.5kg against his own kind to 49.5kg here has him flying. Last year the filly Yankee Rose rounded out the trifecta with Dean Yendall in the saddle, the same hoop coming on Royal Symphony on Saturday. The past two three-year-old Cox Plate winners both came off good late Caulfield Guineas runs: Shamus Award (3rd in 2013) and So You Think (5th in 2009). He could be as good. Shame about Winx.

About The Author

Lucy Henderson

Lucy is an experienced horse racing journalist that has been a crucial member of the horseracing.com.au team for the better part of a decade. She has taken great delight in covering champion mares Black Caviar and Winx throughout their careers and always has a soft spot for a winning filly.

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