A total of 134 rivals have nominated to take up the challenge to three time W.S. Cox Plate winner Winx, as entries closed today for the 2018 $5 million Group 1 Ladbrokes Cox Plate.
The 98th edition of The Valley’s Weight-for-Age Championship is the most anticipated event of the Spring Racing Carnival with Chris Waller’s legendary mare aiming to create history as she strives for an unprecedented fourth Cox Plate title.
A winner of close to $19 million in prizemoney, Winx sent an ominous warning to her rivals this morning that this prizemoney total could soon be increasing, with an eye-catching barrier trial at Rosehill Gardens.
“Winx is obviously the centrepiece to what is a shaping up to be an unmissable Ladbrokes Cox Plate,” says Moonee Valley Racing Club CEO Michael Browell.
“Just when we thought matching Kington Town’s third Cox Plate in 2017 couldn’t be topped – she is now striving to stand alone in the history books and we are well underway in planning an event that will hopefully reflect this achievement”.
The now seven-year-old will have to be on top of her game however, as a strong list of contenders are lining up to challenge her from around the globe. 26 internationals horses make up the nominations including 14 from the all-conquering Aidan O’Brien stable.
The Ballydoyle team knows what it takes to win ‘The Race Where Legends Are Made’ having prepared Adelaide to win in 2014 – the first international winner of the race since its inception in 1922.
“To have undoubtably one of the world’s leading trainers in Aidan O’Brien nominate 14 of his topline gallopers is extremely pleasing and shows how well the Ladbrokes Cox Plate is perceived internationally,” Browell explained.
With prizemoney of the 2040 metre classic being lifted to $5 million in June, the race’s first increase since 2002, the MVRC is delighted with the response with 41 Group 1 winners forming the list.
The MVRC has issued invitations to 15 of the globe’s leading middle distance Weight-for-Age horses with four appearing in the first round of nominations.
“It is very pleasing that Benbatl, a last start Group 1 winner and from global giant Godolphin, has accepted the club’s invitation and we are hopeful of securing further international participants,” said Browell.
Aidan O’Brien’s duo Saxon Warrior and Lancaster Bomber have also been nominated as has European rising star Poet’s Word for Sir Michael Stoute.
Headlining the contingent of local horses include Australian Guineas winner Grunt, three-time Group 1 winner Happy Clapper and last year’s runner-up Humidor.
While the legendary race is shaping up to be a spectacular affair, tickets are also selling fast and are on track for a repeat of last year’s sell-out crowd.
“All dining and hospitality packages are now sold, as is every grandstand seat – we have sold over 30,000 tickets to the day already, which is unprecedented”.
Remaining options to attend Ladbrokes Cox Plate Day including General Admission ticketing, the new-look Valley Precinct in the infield or the option to sign up as an MVRC Member.
Late nominations for the Ladbrokes Cox Plate close at 12 noon on August 14 with the first acceptances on September 11.