What the Melbourne Cup chances did: Saturday 28th October 2017: Cox Plate, Moonee Valley Gold Cup

What the Melbourne Cup chances did: Saturday 28th October 2017: Cox Plate, Moonee Valley Gold Cup

A monster crowd cheered Winx all the way to win the Cox Plate to equal the great Kingston Town and break the track record as well. As far as the Melbourne Cup is concerned – just over a week away – Humidor put in a huge show, and in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup, one of the grand old stayers chimed in to show he’ll be good enough again this year. Oh, and the favourite’s jockey was scratched.

Moonee Valley

Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m)

Winx – 1st

A champion, one of the finest mares and racehorses of all time and she’s still breaking records. Would’ve loved to have seen her try 3200m!

Humidor – 2nd

He gave everyone a fright in nearly running down Winx. His time in coming second is also, handily, the third-fastest ever Cox Plate time. Of course, that’s partly the firmness of the track – it doesn’t matter how great you are when running around after two days of rain – you’ll run a slower time. Winx also had a much harder run, having to come three-wide for a long stretch from around the 1000m mark, and ran eight metres further than Humidor in total.

But take nothing away from Humidor. He was ridden right – exactly how Darren Weir has trained him and how he wants the horse to be ridden: sit on him cold, and work into the race late. The blinkers were on, and he didn’t misbehave. He actually laid in under hard riding early down the straight before truly galloping once he came closer to Winx. He raced with his head to the side for at least 50m or more.

Touch wood, but there might be more improvement from him yet.

There’s a lot to say about the horse. He backed up from last week’s Caulfield Cup at 2400m back to 2040m. Before his preparation this season it looked like he was more of a 1600m-2000m horse. The fact he did well in the Caulfield Cup makes me think he has more range. The 3200m distance will be a query but right now he’s a weight-for-age star and if he gets the right ride, and behaves in his mannerisms and racing style, he’s a live Melbourne Cup chance. Those are two big ifs, though!

No penalty from this race into the Melbourne Cup either.

Gailo Chop – 5th

Missed a top three place and so hasn’t passed the ballot clause yet despite a heavy weight. They might run him in the Lexus to try and get him into the field but that’s just a guess and would be asking a lot of the horse to go Saturday-Saturday-Tues.

Some of the big news out of the race is the suspension (pending appeal) of Damien Oliver. Here’s what the Stewards said:

Damien Oliver (Happy Clapper) – was found guilty of a charge of improper riding under the provisions of AR137(a), the improper riding being that passing the 100m on the first occasion, he rode his mount in and made heavy contact with Royal Symphony and then continued to apply unnecessary pressure making contact with Royal Symphony on a number of occasions, forcing that colt in a number of horses off its rightful running to a point near the winning post on the first occasion. Damien Oliver had his licence to ride in races suspended for a period to commence at midnight October 29th and to expire at the conclusion of the day meeting on November 16th, a total of twenty race meetings (five metropolitan, fifteen provincial). In assessing penalty Stewards took into account the seriousness of the charge however made allowances for the feature meetings he will miss.

Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m)

All seven runners had paid up to try and win a start in the Melbourne Cup, but it was the old boy Who Shot Thebarman who, when second last year, showed this year he’s going as good as ever towards his fourth Melbourne Cup.

Who Shot Thebarman – 1st

He’s been going well all preparation and has put himself into Melbourne Cup calculations proper with this win. The theory I have is that he enjoys the Strathayr as he appreciates some cut in the ground. He’ll run well in the Melbourne Cup again, and he stands an even bigger chance if there’s a little bit of rain around.

Update: Noted form savant, @BrisburghPhil, pulled me up on Who Shot Thebarman being a wet tracker. He goes in all ground but he isn’t an out-and-out wet tracker at all.

Libran – 2nd

He was so strong in his win in the Group 3 Kingston Town (2000m) and then so dreadfully disappointing after that in the Metrop and St Leger. This puts him right back on track to tack his place in the Melbourne Cup but he’s mixing his form.

Cismontane – 3rd

Another third, and he’s still the last horse in the ballot of entry at equal 51st now. Again he ran better than so Gai Waterhouse might try and put him into the Lexus.

Big Duke – 4th

Let me say I thought he was unders because his Melbourne form just isn’t up to his Sydney form. But that wasn’t really ever fairly tested – he just didn’t get a crack at them. Jockey Brenton Avdulla said Big Duke hung out making the turns and then got stuck trying to find room. Certainly not the ideal race pre-Melbourne Cup and I’ve got a small question mark on him taking his place. I won’t back him in the Melbourne Cup if he does start.

Cool Chap – 5th

Worked home ok but a few lengths off the leaders. Won’t make the Melbourne Cup unless he runs again and finds something, and time is running out.

Pentathlon – 6th

Not far away but just off the leading types as betting expected.

Auvray – 7th
The striking black horse moved well into the race, but then ran out of gas close to home, possibly coming to the end of his preparation. He was ridden upside down too so that might not have helped him. That’s his Melbourne Cup campaign over for the year, but Richard Freedman did a job in getting him to race at this level and have a chance of fielding a runner.

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