We are in for an absolute treat this weekend!
The battle between Winx and Hartnell in the Cox Plate is easily the most anticipated race of the 2016 Spring Racing Carnival and we expect this tussle to more than live up to the hype at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
To whet your appetite for the Australasian Weight-For-Age Championship, we have put together this list of the 10 greatest Cox Plate battles and there are some absolute rippers in the bunch.
2015 – Winx vs The Race Record
Winx was already a two-time Group 1 winner when she went into the 2015 Cox Plate, but it was on this day that she stamped herself as an absolute superstar.
Hugh Bowman gave Winx an absolute peach of a ride in transit and when he popped the question coming around the turn she quickly put a couple of lengths on her rivals and she was not stopping late.
The only battle that day was between Winx and the Cox Plate race record held by Might And Power and the great mare absolutely smashed it!
1986 – Bonecrusher vs Our Waverley Star
Many experts still consider this the greatest race in the history of Australian racing!
The 1986 Cox Plate was billed as a match race between Kiwi superstars Bonecrusher and Our Waverley Star – similar to that between Hartnell and Winx this year – and it more than lived up the hype.
Both horses made their run a long way from home and Our Waverley Star looked like he had the race won, but Bonecrusher was able to fight back late and record arguably the most famous victory in the history of the Cox Plate.
2001 – Northerly vs Sunline vs Viscount
It was expected to be a battle between Northerly and Sunline, but talented three-year-old Viscount also got in on the action in the 2001 Cox Plate.
Northerly was able to cross the finish line in front of his rivals, but not before there was significant contact between all three horses and there was still plenty of drama to come.
The connections of Sunline and Viscount both lodged protests against Northerly and Viscount protested against Sunline.
There was plenty of heated discussion in the stewards room about who interfered against whom and the impact that had, but all the protests were eventually dismissed and Northerly held on to the race.
1995 – Octagonal vs Mahogany
It was just about $5 the field in the 1995 edition of the Cox Plate and it ended up as a battle between two champions.
Octagonal went into the Cox Plate on the back of a third place finish in the Caulfield Guineas, while Lloyd Williams-owned Mahogany was set for the Australasian Weight-For-Age Championship after winning the Lightning Stakes in the autumn.
Mahogany had the lead entering the straight, but Octagonal was able to grind him down in the final stages of the race to record a simply thrilling victory.
1989 – Almaarad vs Stylish Century
The 1989 edition of the Cox Plate often flies under the radar, but it was a truly epic race.
Colin Hayes had announced earlier in the week that he planning to retire from training and the majority of the sentimental support was for the veteran Almaarad to give him a third victory in the race.
Stylish Century was the surprise leader of the race and he was sent for home a long way from home and jockey Michael Clarke was forced to make an early move on Almaarad to keep him in the contest.
Stylish Century was incredibly gallant, but Almaarad was too tough late and he got his nose down at the right time to get the job done.
1973 – Taj Rossi vs Swell Time
This was similar to the 1986 Cox Plate between Bonecrusher and Our Waverley Star as Taj Rossi and Swell Time cleared well out from their rivals.
Bart Cummings-trained Taj Rossi was the star three-year-old of his generation and he was expected to record a comfortable victory in the 1973 Cox Plate, but Swell Time refused to give in and made the Australian Horse Of The Year work for his victory all the way down the Moonee Valley straight.
2006 – Fields Of Omagh vs El Segundo vs Pompeii Ruler
Fields Of Omagh won the 2003 edition of the Cox Plate in a boilover – with Lonhro beaten as a $1.50 favourite – and amazingly he was able to win again three years later.
Fields Of Omagh went into the race as a nine-year-old that was considered past his best, but nobody told him that.
El Segundo looked the main danger to Pompeii Ruler at the 200 metre mark, but it was the veteran that was able to finish over the top of his rivals to record a truly remarkable victory.
2013 – Shamus Award vs Happy Trails
Happy Trails is back for his fifth tilt at the Cox Plate this weekend and the closest he came to winning the race was in 2013.
Chad Schofield elected to take advantage of the lightweight on the back of maiden Shamus Award and put the Caulfield Guineas placegetter right on the speed.
Shamus Award fought off Fiorente at the top of the straight, but Happy Trails absolutely stormed home and only narrowly missed out on the biggest victory of his racing career.
1992 – Super Impose vs Let’s Elope
The 1992 Cox Plate was packed full of talent and after plenty of carnage it ended up being a thrilling finish between Super Impose and Let’s Elope.
It was Naturalism that started the 1992 edition of the Cox Plate as a clear favourite, but he lost his rider at the 800 metre mark and Sydeston, Palace Reign and Rough Habit were also knocked out of contention.
It looked as though Better Loosen Up and Let’s Elope were going to fight the race out, but it was Super Impose that was locked in the battle with Let’s Elope and got the job done in the final stages.
1996 – Saintly vs Filante vs All Our Mob vs Juggler
There have been many exciting finishes in the history of the Cox Plate and this is right up there with them.
The 1996 Cox Plate was a select affair with only eight runners, but four of those runners were involved in the thrilling finish.
With 50 metres left to run, Saintly, Juggler, Filante and All Our Mob were basically in a line and all four looked like potential winners.
It was the horse from heaven Saintly that proved the strongest in the final stages and he went on to complete the Cox Plate/Melbourne Cup Double.