Craig Williams believes that barrier one is the perfect gate for European-trained Side Glance in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Side Glance, along with Mull Of Killough, will become the first European-trained horse to contest the Cox Plate since Paolini in 2004 this weekend and his winning chances received a boost this morning when connections opted to select barrier one for the Passing Glance gelding.
The Andrew Balding-trained galloper was blocked for a run when he finished third behind Real Solution in the Group 1 Arlington Million Stakes (2011) in the United States on August 17 and Williams is hopeful that the inside draw will help him avoid similar problems on the six-year-old in the Cox Plate.
“I would think that from what was available than we went for the perfect draw in one,” Williams said at the barrier draw this morning.
“He is quiet a keen horse, he can take a good position, and I think that will suit his run style.
“He got a great position last time in the Arlington Million but unfortunately he didn’t get out in time.
“If we have a similar scenario with a bit more luck I think it is really going to play out in his favor.”
Side Glance has competed regularly at Group 1 level in both the United Kingdom and Dubai but is yet to break through for a win at the highest level of racing.
He finished third behind equine superstar Frankel in the 2012 Queen Anne Stakes (1609m) during the Royal Ascot meeting and fourth behind Animal Kingdom in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup (1800m) but failed to perform at his best in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2011m) – his last start in Europe before heading to the United States.
Williams admits that it is difficult to line Side Glance’s European form up with the form of the locally-trained horses in the Cox Plate but he is confident that the aggressive galloper is going into the Australasian Weight-For-Age Championship with every possible chance.
“His resume is quiet strong; he has raced in 13 Group races and eight of those have been at Group 1 level so he has contested that type of race in Europe,” Williams said.
“It is quiet unusual to see European horses run in the Cox Plate so it is going to be interesting what type of form that it does take to win a Cox Plate.
“I think we still have a question mark on his form but with that barrier he is going to give himself every possible chance.
“I am confident.”
Williams will ride Side Glance for the last time before the Cox Plate at the International Equine Centre in Werribee tomorrow and is hoping that his experience is better than it was the first time he rode the foreign raider.
“I sat on his back here last Wednesday but it wasn’t that comfortable,” Williams said.
“He got a bit keen, he is an aggressive horse, and the saddle went forward on him so I felt like a passenger but tomorrow morning I will go and sit on him in his final piece of work at Werribee before Saturday.”
Williams is chasing his second win in the Cox Plate after winning the 2011 edition of the race with Pinker Pinker.