A FIELD of 12 horses will contest this Saturday’s Group 1 $3 million Tatts Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley.
The Bart Cummings trained Sirmione, winner of the Group 1 Australian Cup earlier this year, will carry saddlecloth number one in the weight-for-age championship and will be ridden by dual Cox Plate winning jockey Damien Oliver.
Following the declaration of the final field this morning, connections of all entrants were challenged by the Moonee Valley Racing Club to select their own barriers.
Racing Victoria’s Chief Steward Terry Bailey drew horses by lot and connections were then asked on stage to select an alley at a mock set of barrier stalls. The first horse drawn was C’est La Guerre owned by Lloyd Williams. The stable chose barrier three.
Interestingly the Gai Waterhouse trained Theseo was the eighth horse selected yet his jockey/ representative at the barrier draw Nash Rawiller opted for the outside barrier 12. No horse has ever won from barrier 12.
The order of selection for Tatts Cox Plate barriers was
C'est La Guerre (3)
Princess Coup (9)
Samantha Miss (2)
Gallant Tess (4)
Master O'Reilly (11)
Connections of Sirmione, which looked in sensational order at this morning’s gallops, drew barrier 8 for the horse. Since the race was first run in 1922 only two winners have drawn gate 8. The last winner was Redcraze in 1957. Bart Cummings has won three Cox Plates during his illustrious career so far with Taj Rossi, Saintly and Dane Ripper. Of the current trainers in Australia Cummings holds the record for the most wins in the race. The late Tommy Smith trained an amazing seven Cox Plate winners.
John Bromley, part-owner of Tatts Cox Plate favourite Princess Coup, ($3.80) selected barrier 9 for the star New Zealand mare. The four-year-old daughter of Encosta De Lago arrives in Australia tomorrow and her trainer Mark Walker does not land in Melbourne until this Friday. Walker will appear exclusively at the Tatts Cox Plate Last Word Media Conference on Friday at 11am at Moonee Valley (Deck Bar).
Another horse flying the flag for New Zealand, Alamosa, drew favourably this morning. The recent Group 1 Toorak Handicap winner’s trainer Mick Price selected gate 7 for the horse – this is the most successful barrier in the history of the race.
The lone three-year-old filly in the Tatts Cox Plate, Newcastle’s Samantha Miss, did not appear at this morning’s Breakfast with the Best gallops but her trainer Kris Lees was on hand to draw her barrier. He chose gate 2 which has so far produced six winners. She remains the second favourite for the race at $4 with Betstar.
In a trackside interview at the Valley this morning leading Sydney trainer Gai Waterhouse, who will saddle up Group 1 Epsom Handicap winner Theseo in the Tatts Cox Plate this Saturday, boldly declared that Samantha Miss is the best filly to come out of NSW in 20 years.
A total of nine individual Group 1 winners will line up in this Saturday’s Tatts Cox Plate. The 12 horses have won a total of 83 races between them (Princess Coup the best performer with 12 wins).
This year’s field has won total stakes of $13,920,538 million and five of the horses are “equine millionaires”.
The 2008 Tatts Cox Plate will be run as race 8 on the 10-race card this Saturday at 4:05pm.