History Says – Cox Plate Day
The $3 million Sportingbet Cox Plate has long been one of the most anticipated races on the calendar, but punters looked forward to it for more than just seeing the best horses in action during the 1980s.
During that decade, and the years either side of it, backing the favourite in Australia’s weight-for-age championship was virtually a licence to print money. Starting with Dulcify’s unforgettable win in 1979 and ending with Better Loosen Up’s 1990 success, 10 of 12 favourites got the job done.
The exceptions were Strawberry Road, who won at 11/2 in 1983 and Rising Prince, who was a 7/1 shot when successful two years later.
Sadly, for those who like Fawkner – who at 2.30pm on Wednesday was the TAB’s $4.20 favourite – the Cox Plate has been anything but a memorable race for punters since. Post-Better Loosen Up, just five of 23 editions have been won by the favourite or equal favourite with a telling trend in the past decade.
Since 2004, if the favourite hasn’t held a stranglehold on the market they have failed to figure in the finish.
In the past 10 years the only favourites to win were Makybe Diva, who started even money in 2005, and So You Think at $1.50 four years later.
The next two shortest-priced favourites were Whobegotyou (2009) and Helmet (2011), who both started at $2.80, and could manage only sixth and eight respectively.
The best effort from a favourite in that time was Samantha Miss, who finished third at $4.60 in 2008.
Miss Finland finished fourth at $4 in 2007, the same price It’s A Dundeel was when eighth last year, while Fawkner’s stablemate Green Moon was one of the longest-priced favourites in the history of the Cox Plate when he finished seventh at $5 in 2012.
The other Cox Plate favourites in the past decade have been Elvstroem, who finished eighth at $4.20 in 2004, and Racing To Win, who finished second-last in the field of 12 in 2006 when a $3.80 chance.
Outside the favourites, El Segundo ($7, 2007) and Ocean Park ($6, 2012) are the only two other winners at a single-figure quote in the past decade, which includes Pinker Pinker ($26) and Shamus Award ($21) in the past three years.
The Caulfield Stakes – which Fawkner won on 11 October – is easily the most prolific producer of Cox Plate winners with 10 of the past 30 winners having had their final lead-up in the 2000m Group 1 at Caulfield.
WATCH: The Group 1 Caulfield Stakes won by Fawkner
All 10 finished in the top four in the Caulfield Stakes, including six who completed the double.
Only one horse has won the George Main Stakes, which Sacred Falls won last month, and the Cox Plate in the same year. That was the immortal Kingston Town, who did it in both 1981 and 1982.
Meanwhile, none of the past 11 ATC Derby winners who have attempted the Derby-Cox Plate double in same year have been successful. The most recent to complete the feat was Cox Plate immortal Bonecrusher, 28 years ago.
Criterion is the lone Australian four-year-old in the race – Adelaide is a Northern Hemisphere three-year-old but considered four by Australian time – and four-year-olds have won three of the past five Cox Plates.
The other two have been won by three-year-olds.
That record is in contrast to the trend from 2000 to 2008, which did not see a four-year-old successful and only three of the nine winners younger than six years of age.
This year’s Cox Plate boasts a trio of three-year-olds – Almalad, Sweynesse and Wandjina – who are all males and Form Focus data reveals that in the past 30 years 62 three-year-olds colts or geldings have contested the Cox Plate for five wins, six seconds and four thirds at a top-three strike-rate of just under 25%.
WATCH: Three-year-old Shamus Award win the 2013 Cox Plate