THIS would have to be one of the most confusing Cox Plates in recent history. There is no standout weight-for-age performer, the three-year-olds have just as many cons as pros, and a pick-it-yourself barrier draw has thrown another curve ball at punters trying to assess the race.
There are three important form lines heading into today’s race: the Caulfield Stakes, Turnbull Stakes and Caulfield Guineas. Of those, the Caulfield Stakes has been the most popular source of Cox Plate winners, with 14 horses completing the double.
That is great news for Gary Hennessy, trainer of New Zealander Ocean Park. The lightly raced four-year-old has won three group 1 races from his last three starts, including the Underwood Stakes and the Caulfield Stakes, but he is yet to race at Moonee Valley.
Turnbull winner Green Moon has plenty going for him, including a progressive profile this preparation. He took the group 1 event at his third run from a spell.
Three-year-olds have raced with mixed success in the Cox Plate but generally when a high-class colt or filly take their place against the older horses, they tend to run well – especially if they are an on-pace runner.
Guineas winner All Too Hard will get back in the field which is not an ideal scenario, but Gai Waterhouse stablemates Proisir and Pierro will be up on the pace. They will be extraordinarily tough to run down if they have recovered from recent hiccups.
And what of the hardy campaigners Shoot Out, Glass Harmonium, and More Joyous? Tried and true weight-for-age horses have an outstanding record in the Cox Plate, so these war horses must be respected.
Barriers often determine group 1 races, and Green Moon undoubtedly has the best of the draw. Pierro is also drawn well and will give a serious kick, while Ethiopia could be the blowout runner.
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