Race Time: 7.40am Meeting: Moonee Valley Australia Day: Saturday 24th October
Distance: 1m 2f 44yds Full Race Name: William Hill Cox Plate Group One
Meanwhile, at some ungodly hour here but the early evening over in Oz, we have a top quality Group One event to try and pick through with one Newmarket challenger and one from Ireland so plenty for us to talk about. Peter Chapple-Hyam sets us media a quandary by declaring Arod (15/2) here, with the four year old son of Teofilo in the form of his life at present – since being dropped back to a mile! Although a bit of a forgotten horse he does have excellent form at this trip as well including a three quarter length second to The Grey Gatsby at York last season, though for all intents and purposes his last run was a career best, when only beaten by Solow at Goodwood in the one mile Sussex Stakes. The French winner is the best older horse in the World at present so that was no disgrace, and if he handles the step back up in trip he could yet pull off a shock with the excellent Craig Williams booked to ride.
Meanwhile. Aidan O’Brien sends Highland Reel (9/2) over for this contest with Ryan Moore clocking up yet more air miles, and as we know he travels well after an easy win in the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park two races ago, he has to be included on the short list. That said, he disappointed a little last time out when only fifth to Golden Horn in the Irish Champion Stakes and although we accept that we would never expect him to beat the John Gosden trained favourite, it might not have been quite good enough to expect him to win here, though he could well run in to a place at a decent price.
Heading off to the local horses next and Godolphin will be hoping for a big run from Complacent (20/1) and have flown James Doyle out to ride which suggests they like his chances. A son of Authorized, he has a victory over Criterion to his name at Randwick in October 2013 and is very lightly raced for a four year old with just the ten career starts and five victories. He did win last time out back at Randwick but was all out that day to beat Hauraki by a short head in a Group Three and he will need to recapture his earlier form if he wants to win this ultra competitive renewal.
Trainer Chris Bower and jockey Hugh Bowman look like a pretty formidable pairing to me and are represented here by Winx (6/1) who is looking to make it five wins on the bounce and looks like one of those the others will need to beat. The daughter of Street Cry seems pretty adaptable with wins over six to eleven furlongs but never at the ten she faces today, though her last victory at Randwick over the mile in a Group One Handicap was admittedly pretty impressive and in receipt of plenty of weight from most of her rivals ought to prove pretty difficult to keep out of the first three as a barest minimum.
To end with, we just have to mention Criterion (7/1) as he looks to remind his many Australian fans that he is still top class despite a failed mission to England this summer. A fifth to Free Eagle in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot was followed by a sixth to Arabian Queen and Golden Horn at York in the Juddmonte Stakes which was not what they expected, though he has won since at Caulfield, beating Mongolian Khan in to third that day and he went on to win the Caulfield Cup last weekend. A look through his form does suggest he may be better with a bit more cut in the ground than he seems likely to get on Saturday, which may be enough to see us bet elsewhere once all the odds are out, but he is a class act at home and it will be interesting to see how he gets on against the British and Irish raiders today.