Cox Plate History
Named in honour of Mooney Valley racecourse founder William Samuel Cox, the Cox Plate was first run in 1922 and won by six-year-old English-import Violoncello.
Although the Melbourne Cup is regarded as Australia’s most famous race, the Group 1 Cox Plate is held in the highest esteem and a large proportion of the Australian racing community view it as a superior race.
In 2014, Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien sent his prized colt Adelaide to contest the race, and despite the northern hemisphere three-year-old meeting the southern hemisphere three-year-olds much worse off at the weights, the son of Galileo came from last and rounded the field for a supremely authoritative win.
Adelaide scored the narrow victory from 2013 Caulfield Cup winner Fawkner and Kiwi mare Silent Achiever.
Another memorable victory would follow suit in 2015 as Chris Waller’s four-year-old mare Winx claimed the event by 4.75 lengths in track-record time to deliver Waller with his first spring major. She won the 2016 race by eight lengths and completed a hat-trick of Cox Plates last year.
The cream of Australian racing have won the race including Phar Lap (1930-1931), Chatham (1932 & 1934), Ajax (1938), Tranquil Star (1942 & 1944), Flight (1945-1946), Rising Fast (1954), Tobin Bronze (1966-67), Dulcify (1979), Kingston Town (1980-1982), Octagonal (1995), Might And Power (1998), Sunline (1999-2000), Northerly (2001-2002) and more recently, champion mare Makybe Diva (2005), So You Think (2009-2010) and Winx (2015-2017).
Along with those greats, who could forget the gargantuan effort of grand-old campaigner Fields Of Omagh who defeated Defier and Lonhro in 2003, then ran 2nd to Savabeel in 2004, and then 3rd to Makybe Diva and Lotteria in 2005, only to return in 2006 to win the race for a second time as a nine-year-old.
All past winners have etched their names on the WS Cox Plate Wall of Champions that now take pride of place in the Octagonal Lounge.
The Cox Plate is one of the world’s richest weight-for-age races and carries prizemoney of more than $3 million.
Traditional lead-up races have been the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (formerly the Yalumba Stakes 2000m), but with the historical success of three-year-olds in the Cox Plate, the Caulfield Guineas (1600m) has been a good reference point.
In 2013 the Danny O’Brien-trained Shamus Award became the 19th three-year-old and the first maiden to win the 2040m feature.
Although most trainers will target their stable stars at the Cox Plate, in recent times trainers have used the Cox Plate as a final solid hit-out for their Melbourne Cup-bound gallopers.