The Moonee Valley Racing Club conducted their first W.S. Cox Plate on Saturday, October 28, 1922. Conducted over 9.5 furlongs at WFA, the race carried stake-money of 1,000 pounds – 500 pounds less than the Moonee Valley Cup.
Imported 7yo Violoncello was the inaugural winner, the stallion landing in Australia the previous year. He had won the 1921 Caulfield Cup before a second in the Melbourne Stakes. He then finished unplaced in the 1921 Melbourne Cup.
Trained in Sydney by C.H. (Cecil) Bryans for noted owner Sir Samuel Hordern, Violoncello (post Cox Plate) enjoyed a stunning week at the 1922 VRC Cup Carnival, taking home the Cantala Mile (with 9.7), the Linlithgow Stakes (8f) and the Fisher Plate (12f). He was ridden in all four feature wins by NSW-based J. (Jack) King.
The race distance was changed to 10 furlongs in 1943, updated to 2000m with metrics being introduced in 1972. In 1974, the distance became 2050m, then in 1985 changed to 2040m. The race was divided in 1946.
The Cox Plate honour roll goes on virtually forever with 4-time winner Winx and triple winner Kingston Town heading the list. Dual winners include Phar Lap, Chatham, Tobin Bronze, Northerly, Sunline, So You Think alongside greats such as Tulloch, Rising Fast, Makybe Diva, Gunsynd, Ajax, Amounis, Might and Power, Dulcify, Redcraze & Heroic. Special mention goes to 1976 winner Surround – the only 3yo filly to win this event.
T.J. (Tommy) Smith holds the training record with 7 wins, ahead of Jack Holt (6), Bart Cummings (5) & Chris Waller (4). On 3 wins are Colin Hayes, Frank McGrath & Roy Shaw. Deidre Stein (Rising Prince-1985) & Moira Murdoch (Solvit-1994) are the two women trainers to win a Cox Plate.
|2019||G4-TRUE||LYS GRACIEUX||Y YAHAGI||D LANE||6M||119|
|2018||G3-TRUE||WINX||C WALLER||H BOWMAN||7M||130|
|2017||G3-TRUE||WINX||C WALLER||H BOWMAN||6M||132|
|2016||S5-TRUE||WINX||C WALLER||H BOWMAN||5M||127|
|2015||G3-3M||WINX||C WALLER||H BOWMAN||4M||115|
|2014||G3-3M||ADELAIDE||A O'BRIEN||R MOORE||4H||115|
|2013||G3-3M||SHAMUS AWARD||D O'BRIEN||C SCHOFIELD||3C||92|
|2012||G4-3M||OCEAN PARK||G HENNESSY||G BOSS||4H||114|
|2011||G4-TRUE||PINKER PINKER||G EURELL||C WILLIAMS||4M||108|
|2010||G4-TRUE||SO YOU THINK||J B CUMMINGS||S ARNOLD||4H||120|
The most recent slow/soft tracks are 2005 (Makybe Diva), 2000 (Sunline) with 1975 (Fury’s Order) the last time that the Cox Plate encountered heavy ground.
Fields of Omagh (2006) is the oldest winner (9yo). A 3yo has won 20 times (1 filly) while mares account for 14 wins (from 8 individual mares).
Except for the 3yo Shamus Award (92), all past 10 winners were rated 108 and higher going into their respective Cox Plates.
|2019||LYS GRACIEUX||11||14||$2.50F||LYS GRACIEUX||$2.50F||1ST|
|2013||SHAMUS AWARD||3||14||$21.00||IT'S A DUNDEEL||$4F||8TH|
|2012||OCEAN PARK||9||14||$6||GREEN MOON||$5F||7TH|
|2010||SO YOU THINK||5||10||$1.50F||SO YOU THINK||$1.50F||1ST|
Since 1956 (mechanised gates first used), barrier positions 12 & 14 have not produced a winner. Major outs include gate 8 (1957) & gate 10 (1986). Barriers 1 to 7 account for 46 of the past 64 winners (71.8% SR).
With a strike-rate of 42%, the outright favourite has enjoyed a solid journey in 99 editions. Note: when the favourite gets out longer than $3.20, it wins at only 13% SR.
Leonard (1946) & Mosaic (1939) share the honours, scoring at 50/1. There have been just 10 Cox Plate winners priced at $21 or longer.
Phar Lap was 1/14f when scoring in 1931 and 1/7f in 1930. Overall, 23 favourites have started odds-on, 17 winning.
|YEAR||WINNER||A/S||OR||LAST START||L3||NEXT RACE|
|2019||LYS GRACIEUX||6M||119||1st G1 2200m Takarazuka (125)||2-3-1.||1st Arima Kinen|
|2018||WINX||7M||130||1st G1 2000m Turnbull (21)||1-1-1.||SPELL|
|2017||WINX||6M||132||1st G1 2000m Turnbull (21)||1-1-1.||SPELL|
|2016||WINX||5M||127||1st G1 2000m Caul Stks (14)||1-1-1.||SPELL|
|2015||WINX||4M||115||1st G1 1600m Epsom (21)||1-1.||SPELL|
|2014||ADELAIDE||4H||115||3rd G2 2400m Niel (41)||2-1-3.||SPELL|
|2013||SHAMUS AWARD||3C||92||3rd G1 1600m Caul Gneas (14)||7-2-3.||SPELL|
|2012||OCEAN PARK||4H||114||1st G1 2000m Caul Stks (14)||1-1-1.||3rd Mackinnon|
|2011||PINKER PINKER||4M||108||2nd G1 1600m Epsom (21)||1-2-2.||SPELL|
|2010||SO YOU THINK||4H||120||1st G1 Caul Stks (14)||1-1-1.||1st Mackinnon|
Compelling evidence to suggest you bring A-Grade form to the Cox Plate. Maldivian (2008) & El Segundo (2007) are the only winners this century to finish worse than fifth in their final lead-up start, (days since last start shown in brackets).
Again, this data-panel illustrates that solid recent form invariably holds up into the race. Two winners this century contested the Caulfield Cup: Northerly (2002) & Maldivian (2008).
Job done it appears for the majority of the past ten winners. The Mackinnon now positioned 14 days away (historically a week), the obvious next race option.
Emulating either Winx or Kingston Town is a daunting prospect, but this is what Kolding must achieve if he is to win the Cox Plate. A total of 34 George Main winners have contested the Cox Plate (same year) and those two afore-mentioned stars are the only horses to complete the double: Winx (3 times) & Kingston Town (2 times). Some George Main winners to fail include Lonhro (2003), More Joyous (2010, Racing to Win (2006) & Grand Armee (2004).
Three 3yos have won the Cox Plate (via the Caulfield Guineas) over the past 30 years: Shamus Award (2013), So You Think (2009) & Octagonal (1995), all finished top 5 in the Guineas. Whilst it's fair to compare Grandslam to that trio on that basis alone, his prior form fails to match up. Octagonal & So You Think were Group winners, while Shamus Award was multiple G2 placed, despite being a Maiden.
The Epsom Hcp-Cox Plate double is another rarity, Winx in 2015 becoming just the fourth horse to take this double, and the first since 1959 (the 3yo Noholme). The other two are legends of the track, Chatham (1932) & Nightmarch (1929). A further 29 Epsom winners tried their luck at Cox Plate glory with only six landing a placing. Probabeel became just the third 4yo mare to claim the Epsom since 1976, however, based on historical precedents, she must go to a completely different level here to win.
The global powerhouse that is Coolmore/Ballydoyle has aimed the ultra-consistent Armory at the 2020 Cox Plate, this NH-bred 4yo more than comparable to past Cox Plate aspirants prepared by the yard - Adelaide (1st-2014), Highland Reel (3rd-2015), Rostropovich (5th-2018) and Magic Wand (4th-2019). A career PB last start in the G1 Irish Champion Stakes, third to two of Europe’s finest mid-distance horses (Magical & Ghaiyyath), comfortably places Armory on top.
There is little between Arcadia Queen & Russian Camelot, both securing victories in key Cox Plate reference races, the Caulfield & Underwood Stakes. Whilst barrier 14 is a definite obstacle for Russian Camelot, a rain-affected surface may also present a problem for Arcadia Queen.
Sir Dragonet is a horse that would be favoured by soft going. He’s invariably hopeless from the gates, so will need tempo and luck to go his way. If the weather turns totally sour and conditions plunge into the heavy range, expect a more patiently ridden Master of Wine to improve dramatically.