2020 Cox Plate runner-by-runner guide

Adam Cusworth Adam Cusworth
New Zealand Preview Saturday September 17


The Cox Plate (2040m) is regarded as Australia’s weight-for-age championship and and we take a look at the 2020 Cox Plate horses.

For the purists, the Group 1 feature is simply the best event on the Australian racing calendar and the Moonee Valley classic features an honour roll that is choc full of the greats, including Winx, So You Think, MIght And Power and Kingston Town. Just which contender will join that group on the honour roll in 2020?

2020 Cox Plate Final Field

No. Horse Trainer Jockey Barrier Weight
1 KOLDING (NZ) Chris Waller James McDonald 10 59kg
2 HUMIDOR (NZ) Chris Waller Craig Williams 14 59kg
3 FIERCE IMPACT (JPN) Matthew Smith Luke Currie 12 59kg
4 MASTER OF WINE (GER) Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes TBA 1 59kg
5 MUGATOO (IRE) Kris Lees John Allen 9 59kg
6 ASPETAR (FR) Roger Charlton Damian Lane 3 59kg
7 SIR DRAGONET (IRE) Ciaron Maher & David Eustace Glen Boss 7 59kg
8 MAGIC WAND (IRE) Aidan O’Brien Mark Zahra 4 57kg
9 ARCADIA QUEEN Grant & Alana Williams William Pike 8 57kg
10 NETTOYER Wendy Roche Billy Egan 13 57kg
11 RUSSIAN CAMELOT (IRE) Danny O’Brien Damien Oliver 15 56.5kg
12 ARMORY (IRE) Aidan O’Brien Ben Melham 6 56.5kg
13 PROBABEEL (NZ) Jamie Richards Kerrin McEvoy 2 55.5kg
14 GRANDSLAM Ciaron Maher & David Eustace Jye McNeil 5 49.5kg
15e 15e BUCKHURST (IRE) Joseph O’Brien Jamie Kah 11 59kg


2020 Cox Plate horses – runner-by-runner guide

1 KOLDING (NZ) $13 @

One of two Chris Waller-trained gallopers in the Cox Plate, Kolding might just be coming good at the right time. The 2019 Epsom Handicap (1600m) and Golden Eagle (1500m) winner wasn’t quite at his best in the autumn but picked up the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) recently before capturing a high quality edition of the Hill Stakes (2000m) at Randwick at his final lead in, defeating Avilius and Fierce Impact. The five-year-old has won 10 of 24 starts and is a two time winner on Soft tracks. He is expected to settle worse than midfield with James McDonald on board and is a definite first four contender.

2 HUMIDOR (NZ) $26

Cox Plate horses

The old timer almost pinched the Cox Plate in 2017, eye-balling the mighty Winx in the straight before going down by just under half a length in what was the closest call at the Valley for the four time champ. The second of the gallopers from the Waller camp, Humidor just about looked gone during the winter with some sub-par runs in Perth before taking out the Feehan Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley. The eight-year-old, who begun his career in New Zealand, has switched trainers on six occasions and was prepared by Darren Weir when placing in this race in 2017/2018. It would be a bit of a fairytale win but he does look to be a few lengths off the best, as evidenced by his recent 3rd placing in the Caulfield Stakes (2000m) behind Arcadia Queen and Russian Camelot.


Makybe Diva Stakes Tips

The three-time Group 1 winning miler begun his career in the UK before coming to Australia in 2018. He picked up the Toorak Handicap (1600m) in 2019 before backing up that performance with a win in the Cantala Stakes (1600m). This season, he held off Russian Camelot in the Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) and has since ran 3rd behind Kolding in the Hill Stakes. The question mark is the 2000m, while he has drawn poorly for his first attempt at the Moonee Valley track. While he does race well with a bit of give, it is hard to see the Matthew Smith-trained galloper finishing in the top three.


Turnbull Stakes Tips

There has been a bit of a boom on Master Of Wine for some time now and the Team Hawkes-trained galloper needs to produce a big performance to live up to the hype. The lightly raced five-year-old was a big winner at Rosehill over the 2000m at Group 3 level back in the autumn before running a solid 4th behind Verry Elleegant in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m), Sydney’s equivalent of the Cox Plate. This time around he has been solid in a couple of the lead up runs at Flemington before producing a luckless effort when 10th in the Caulfield Cup. This will be his first go at Moonee Valley and it is interesting to note that his win in the Sky High at Randwick came on Heavy ground so he might be worth consideration if the track deteriorates with any rain. He has drawn to save ground from barrier 1.


The Metropolitan barrier draw

The Kris Lees-trained galloper has had an excellent spring, taking out a pair of Group 3 events, including the Newcastle Cup (2300m). He was set a task in the Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick with the 57kg and almost pulled off victory but was run down by Mirage Dancer. While this year’s Metropolitan did rate well in comparison to previous years, horses coming to Melbourne following that race have not done much in the past. Mirage Dancer had some excuses in the Caulfield Cup but was a mile from them in the end when 17th of 18 runners and you could just about rule a line through this guy.


The first of the internationals, Aspetar comes to the Valley with three months in between runs. At his latest, the six-year-old took out the Group 2 York Stakes over the 2063m distance in the UK, while he also boasts a Group 1 win in Germany on his CV. Trained by Roger Charton, he gets the services of the leading jockey, Damian Lane, who partnered the Japanese mare, Lys Gracieux, to victory last year. He was won on Soft and Good tracks, while he he has drawn in a bit of a sweet spot that is barrier 3. He is a first four candidate.


The five-year-old lines up for the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable, having previously raced for Aidan O’Brien in Ireland. He has had just the nine career starts, winning on two occasions and has finished runner-up at his past three. At his most recent start he tackled the Group 1 Gold Cup at the Curragh and was no match for Magical. However, he is one that comes into it if the rain arrives, while he will be partnered by Glen Boss, who steered Makybe Diva, Ocean Park and So You Think (2009) to victory this millennium.


Mackinnon Stakes

The first of four mares in the race this year is Magic Wand, who lines up for trainer, Aidan O’Brien, who was good enough to land this race with Adelaide in 2014. The daughter of Galileo had her last start at the Curragh but has racing experience in Australia, having run 4th in the Cox Plate last year before missing out in the Melbourne Cup (3200m). She bounced back with a win ahead of Melody Belle and Hartnell in the Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) before heading back home. Not sure if she is going as well as last year- she had form around Adeeybb and Anthony Van Dyck heading into the Cox Plate last year. But the 2019 experience should hold her in good stead and she might be worth a sneaky wager at decent odds.


Underwood Stakes Tips

Arcadia Queen was installed as favourite in most markets after the barrier draw before easing slightly and at the time of writing it is Russian Camelot that is the popular elect. Arcadia Queen was too good for that horse in the recent Caulfield Stakes (2000m), which has always been a key lead up towards the Cox Plate. The West Australian mare, who races in the pink and white colours for owner Bob Peters, dominated in her home state before a brief and winless stint with Chris Waller when aimed at last year’s Everest (1200m) She returned to the Grant & Alana Williams stable for a tilt at the Melbourne spring this year and took a couple of runs to get going before her win last time. There is some school of thought that she was suited by the lack of tempo in the Caulfield Stakes but she might just be craving the distance. The slight unknown is the Soft track but the daughter of Pierro can definitely win this race if her last start is anything to go by.

10 NETTOYER $101

Coolmore Legacy barrier draw

Probably not in the same ballpark as a lot of these but the Wendy Roche-trained mare earnt her spot in the field on the back of her win as a $41 shot in the Doncaster Mile earlier this year. Interestingly, that came on a Heavy track. Recent form, however, suggests she is out of the equation. She finished down the track in the Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) and the Epsom (1600m) before an improved performance in the Craven Plate (2000m) when runner-up in that race last weekend but she is probably one worth risking.


Cox Plate Nominations

The race favourite had a bit of a boom on him in the autumn before delivering in spectacular fashion in the South Australian Derby (2500m) when caught wide for the trip before prevailing ahead of the likes of Dalasan and Warning. He was posted without cover again when resuming with a runner-up performance in the Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington before oozing class with a strong win in the Underwood Stakes (1800m). Arcadia Queen swept past him last time but the Danny O’Brien-trained galloper has been set for this all along and the likelihood of a strong tempo, as well as a track with give, will suit. The wide barrier is a concern but if Damien Oliver can find a spot in the running line before they head out of the straight, he will be hard to hold out at the business end.

12 ARMORY (IRE) $5.50

The second of the Aidan O’Brien runners is Armory, who races in the Coolmore colours. The son of Galileo produced a big performance when 6th in the Irish Champion behind Ghaiyyath and Japan over the 2012m and was a winner over that trip at Group 3 level at the Curragh prior to that. Northern hemisphere four-year-olds have a good record in recent times in Australia, while he is another one that likes a bit of give in the ground. He has an excellent turn of foot and Ben Melham will look to settle just off the speed. He could just be the best of the imports and if that is the case, he will take some beating.

13 PROBABEEL (NZ) $8.50

The Kiwi galloper is another solid chance in this year’s field of 14. After catching the eye over the unsuitable 1200m when resuming, the daughter of the 2004 Cox Plate winner, Savabeel, rocketed home to claim the Bill Ricthie (1400m), before claiming the recent Epsom Handicap (1600). She races in Melbourne for the first time but goes well on both Soft and Good ground, while she has drawn to get a lovely cart into the race from barrier 2. She has had one start at the distance for a runner-up effort in the 2019 Vinery Stud Stakes but seems to be getting better with age and is a definite threat to the likes of Russian Camelot.


The sole three-year-old in the race, Grandslam will be out to emulate the likes of So You Think, who ran 5th in the Caulfield Guineas before leading all the way in the Cox Plate of 2009. Grandslam went a couple of spots better in this year’s Caulfield Guineas when 3rd to Ole Kirk and while some say he was very lucky to sneak into the field as his only win was in a lowly BenchMark 66 at Morphettville in April, the three-year-olds always add an element of intrigue to this race. We only need to look back to 2013 when Shamus Award won as a Maiden, while the moderately performed Castelvecchio wasn’t too far away from Lys Gracieux when runner-up last year. Jye McNeil might look to lead from barrier 5 and the son of Myboycharlie carries just 49.5kg. In saying all of this, it might be a stretch too far at this stage of his career.


Unlucky not to sneak into the field, connections will be hoping that the five-year-old gains a run as he does boast a win ahead of the likes of Sir Dragonet. The Joseph O’Brien galloper wears the famous navy blue and white colours for the Williams family and appeared in the Caulfield Cup last weekend, settling handy before just failing to run out a strong 2400m. Back to the 2000m, a distance that saw him win at Group 3 level, he can be competitive if he is able to gain a start.

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