The Australian racing season is getting into full swing and there is a value bet to be struck in the country’s most prestigious race, the WS Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.
The Melbourne Cup at Flemington is Australia’s most famous race – marketing types like to say that it is the race that stops a nation – but the world’s richest handicap is not in the same class as the WS Cox Plate, which is known as the weight-for-age championship of Australasia. Contested over 2,040 metres on a Moonee Valley track that is every bit as quirky as Epsom in England, the WS Cox Plate honour roll features many of Australasian racing’s all-time greats.
Unfortunately, the WS Cox Plate has fallen on hard times in recent years. So You Think won back-to-back WS Cox Plates in 2009 and 2010 before heading to Europe to prove himself on the international stage, winning five more Group One races in the United Kingdom and Ireland. But the subsequent three WS Cox Plate winners have not been in So You Think’s class.
Last year, Shamus Award entered the WS Cox Plate as a maiden and led all the way in a slowly run race to become the first thoroughbred ever to break his or her duck in Australasia’s premier event. Shamus Award’s winning time was slow by WS Cox Plate standards, the form of the race did not hold up and he retired having won just two of his 14 starts.
This year’s WS Cox Plate, which will take place on Saturday 25 October, is shaping up to be no better than last year’s edition. But that does not mean that there is not value to be snapped up and one thinks that Silent Achiever represents a decent ante-post investment at odds of +1600 with Bet365.
The WS Cox Plate will be run at a genuine pace provided that The Cleaner does not have a setback between now and the end of October and takes his place in the field. The Cleaner is the new star of Australian racing, not because he is overly talented but because he runs every race in the same manner and he does not know when he is beaten. Australian racing punters have taken The Cleaner to their hearts and, after winning Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley, he is exempt from the ballot for the WS Cox Plate final field.
Most bookmakers have chalked up Dissident as the WS Cox Plate favourite but one doubts that he will stay the trip, particularly with The Cleaner rolling along and making sure that there is no repeat of Shamus Award’s slow winning time. Dissident’s pedigree is that of a 1,600m runner, with his sire, Sebring, fathering only one stakes winner over more than one mile. One wants to oppose Dissident at his odds.
Fawkner is the WS Cox Plate second favourite with most bookmakers and he makes much more appeal than Dissident. Fawkner won last year’s Caulfield Cup so running out a strong 2,040m should not pose a problem and he went very close to beating Dissident in the Makybe Diva Stakes over 1,600m on Saturday. One would be keen on Fawkner anywhere other than Moonee Valley but his swooping style does not suit the tight track and its short straight. Fawkner has taken out just one of his four Moonee Valley races, failing to get all that close to the winner in his last three.
Silent Achiever is the value WS Cox Plate runner. Roger James had been planning for Silent Achiever to peak on the first Tuesday in November but he has said that he may turn his back on the Melbourne Cup and focus on the WS Cox Plate instead. James has given two reasons for this: first, he was taken aback at Silent Achiever’s Melbourne Cup weight of 56.5 kilograms; and second, he thinks that The Cleaner’s presence in the WS Cox Plate may suit Silent Achiever.
One agrees with James on both counts. Silent Achiever races close to the speed so Moonee Valley should hold no fears for her – she won the Crystal Mile on her only previous visit to the course – and her 10-furlong form stands up well. Silent Achiever won two Group One races over 2,000m in the southern hemisphere autumn and her first spring run was a sound one behind Dissident in the Memsie Stakes over just 1,400m.
Silent Achiever to win the WS Cox Plate
Where to Bet: Bet365
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