Cox’s Plate next & speculating on Winx’s future
By Dick Powell
The $3 million Cox Plate (G1) is Australia’s premier horse race. No, not the two-mile $6 million Melbourne Cup (G1) run under handicap conditions on the first Tuesday of November where the marathon distance and high weights scare away many of the top horses.
But the Cox Plate is the Down Under version of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) or Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe (G1). It is run under weight-for-age conditions going just over 1 ¼ miles at Moonee Valley Racing Club in Melbourne. The course is left-handed and very tight. It is essentially a rounded square and when they come out of the final turn, the finish line is only one furlong away.
Riders have to time their moves and also decide whether it is best to save ground late or race wide and clear. When the immortal MAKYBE DIVA (Desert King) won her Cox Plate in 2005, she was at least seven wide turning for home and got up in time. She came back nine days later to win her third straight Melbourne Cup while carrying 128 pounds going two miles.
History could be made this year on October 28 as WINX (Street Cry) goes for her record third straight Cox Plate in two weeks. Her last race, the Turnbull Stakes (G1) going a mile and three-sixteenths at Flemington where the Melbourne Cup is held, was a romp in the park as rider Hugh Bowman never moved a muscle and the odds-on favorite won by 6 ½ lengths as trainer Chris Waller brings her to a boil for the Cox Plate.
Winx has now won 21 straight races and a Cox Plate win would be her 15th in a Group 1 stakes. BLACK CAVIAR’s (Bel Esprit) record of 25 straight wins could be in jeopardy as Winx’s owners have said that if all is well with her, she would continue to race.
So, here is where the mind begins to wander. There is talk, just as there was talk when Black Caviar was decimating her opposition, about a trip to Europe next year. And if she does, the ultimate dream race would include Winx and ENABLE (Nathaniel), winner of the Arc de Triomphe a couple of weeks ago.
Enable has won five straight Group 1 races, including two over males, and will race again next year for Juddmonte Farms before eventually being mated with ARROGATE (Unbridled’s Song). Her forte is 1 ½ miles while Winx has been able to win Group 1 stakes from 7 ½ furlongs to 10 furlongs. Winx even won her first three career starts at 5 ½ furlongs, seven furlongs and six furlongs.
Winx is definitely the more versatile of the two super mares but Enable is tough as nails going 1 ½ miles. Both have tactical speed so neither comes from way back and 10 furlongs would probably be the perfect distance for them to meet in a real race; not a match race.
I know I am dreaming and I also resent that Winx needs to travel to another hemisphere to prove her worth. As some of the trainers of top horses in Australia have been known to say, “the planes travel both ways.”
But these are two all-time great females racing at the same time on the same planet and it would be fantastic if they were to face each other somewhere.
Speaking of hemispheres, the super sire STREET CRY (Machiavellian) passed away too early at the age of 16 in 2014. Luckily, in his all-too-brief stud career, he sired one of the greatest mares of the Northern Hemisphere (Zenyatta) and one of the greatest mares of the Southern Hemisphere (Winx).