The 2019 Ladbrokes Cox Plate is here!
There may be no Winx in the Cox Plate field this year, but this race is absolutely packed full of quality and it is a truly fascinating betting affair.
Japanese galloper Lys Gracieux has opened as a clear favourite and there are a number of very talented horses that are available at double-figure odds.
We have analysed every single runner in the field and our complete 2019 Cox Plate tips are below.
Black Heart Bart
Connections of Black Heart Bart have paid the $200,000 late entry fee to get him into the Ladbrokes Cox Plate field and you can see why. He returned to his best form to record a narrow win over Homesman in the Underwood Stakes and he was perhaps unlucky not to beat Cape Of Good Hope in the Ladbrokes Stakes last start. I am not completely sold on the form coming out of the Ladbrokes Stakes, but I still think that Black Heart Bart is a better chance than his current odds of $41 suggest.
It is tough to know what to make of Avilius heading into the Cox Plate. He looked well on track when he scored a dominant victory in the George Main Stakes, but he could finish no better than fourth when he started the Ladbrokes Stakes as a clear favourite. The fact that he bled over the weekend is also far from ideal. His best form would have him right in this contest and any rain in Melbourne would be ideal, but I’m not sure that The Valley is the best track for him. $10 is around the right price.
Kluger has returned to Australia after finishing fourth in the Doncaster Mile and chasing home Winx in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes during the Autumn. He has only had one race start since when he finished eighth in The Sapporo Kinen. His Queen Elizabeth Stakes run was excellent and a repeat of that sort of performance would have him in the mix. In saying that, that was something of a spike performance and his Japanese form is nowhere near as strong as that of Lys Gracieux.
It took Harlem a while to get going this campaign, he finished at the tail of the field in both the P.B. Lawrence Stakes and the Ladbrokes Feehan Stakes, but he produced much improved efforts in both the Underwood Stakes and the Ladbrokes Stakes. I am still not convinced that he is capable of winning a race the quality of the Ladbrokes Cox Plate and I do understand why he is the extreme outsider in this field.
Homesman earnt his place in the Cox Plate field with a classy win in the Ladbrokes Feehan Stakes before he was beaten as favourite by Black Heart Bart in the Underwood Stakes. His run in the Ladbrokes Stakes was a little bit disappointing and it will be interesting to see what Ben Melham does from the wide barrier draw. He does have some early speed and it wouldn’t surprise to see Melham ride him aggressively in the early stages, which would probably be his best chance.
Kings Will Dream
Kings Will Dream almost lost his life in the Cox Plate 12 months ago and the fact that he is here at all is a remarkable achievement from connections. He was able to claim a maiden Group 1 victory with a classy effort in the Turnbull Stakes and he should only now be reaching peak fitness. The Casamento gelding did have plenty of factors in his favour in the Turnbull Stakes and he won’t get that in the Cox Plate. The wide barrier draw also makes this a tough assignment.
Te Akau Shark
Tea Akau Shark might be the x-factor in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate field. His run in the Epsom Handicap was nothing short of enormous and he was unlucky not to claim a maiden Group 1 victory. This is the first time that he has been out to 2000 metres, so that is an unknown, but he gives the indication that will not be an issue. The problem might be the wide barrier draw. He is going to get a long way back in the run and he is going to need to be extremely good to finish over the top of his rivals. The upside is there and he does offer some value at $15.
Danceteria will take his place in the Cox Plate after he missed the Ladbrokes Stakes due to a minor setback. His form in Europe is very strong. His finished fourth behind Enable in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park in July and form really doesn’t get much stronger than that. I’m not sure that he has the same amount of upside as some of the other internationals in this field, but he can’t be discounted.
Lys Gracieux is the horse to beat in the Cox Plate. She is a genuine Group 1 performer in Japan and we have seen that form stack up in Australia time and time again – she is a much better horse than Caulfield Cup winner Mer De Glace. She won the Queen Elizabeth Club in Kyoto in November last year and was only narrowly denied in the Hong Kong Vase. The scary thing for her rivals is that she has gone to another level since then. She savaged the line to finished third in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong and she produced a career best performance to win The Takarauza Kinen in Japan in truly dominant fashion. The wide barrier draw isn’t ideal, but she does have a degree of tactical versatility as well as the class to overcome a tough run in transit.
Magic Wand doesn’t win out of turn, but she is a talented galloper with some very strong form lines. She was sent to Australia after she finished second behind Magical in the Irish Champion Stakes and he went on to finish fifth in the Prix De l’arc De Triomphe and win the Champion Stakes at Ascot. Ryan Moore has come over to ride the Galileo filly and she does map to get a lovely run in transit just behind the leaders. The $16 that is currently available is over the odds.
Cape Of Good Hope
Cape Of Good Hope brought mixed form to Australia, but he showed his quality to score a strong win in the Ladbrokes Stakes. I still think that he would need to improve on that performance to be a genuine winning chance in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate, but he does have the upside to do that. In saying that, I do think that the market has overrated his Ladbrokes Stakes win and I can’t get him anywhere near as short as his current price.
Plenty of people have been quick to write off Mystic Journey, but she still goes into the Ladbrokes Cox Plate with a genuine winning chance. She returned to the races with an easy win in the P.B. Lawrence Stakes before she was beaten by Gatting in the Makybe Diva Stakes. Her fifth place finish in the Turnbull Stakes may have looked a little bit flat on paper, but she ran all the fastest closing sectionals in the race and she was the only horse to make up ground in the concluding stages of the race. Barrier six does look ideal for her and she will have every possible chance. $7.50 does seem around the right price.
This is the biggest test of Verry Elleegant’s racing career to date. She has improved each time that she has been seen at the races this campaign and she was able to return to winning form with a fast-finishing victory in the Hill Stakes. The Cox Plate is a big step-up in quality from the Hill Stakes and she would need to go to another level to be a genuine winning chance.
Castelvecchio is the sole three-year-old in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate field. He has always looked to be crying out for 2000 metres this campaign and he returned to a semblance of his best form to finish second behind Shadow Hero in the Spring Champion Stakes. Three-year-olds do have a strong record in the Cox Plate, but I am really not sure that The Valley will suit Castelvecchio and the strong early move for him does surprise me. I am more than happy to oppose him at the current price.
Humidor is the first emergency for the Cox Plate. He famously finished a close second behind Winx in the 2017 Cox Plate and he finished in the placings again 12 months ago. The Teofilo entire made a slow start to his Spring campaign, but he showed a decent turn-of-foot to finish fifth in the Ladbrokes Stakes. I’m still not sure that he is going well enough to be a genuine winning chance in this year’s race.
Mr Quickie is the second emergency for the Cox Plate. He had no luck in the Caulfield Cup and was able to pick up strongly after being completely flattened at the top of the straight. The Shamus Award gelding hasn’t had a great deal of luck this campaign.
Gailo Chop is the third emergency for the Cox Plate and looks unlikely to earn a start. His run in the Underwood Stakes was good before he tired late in the Ladbrokes Stakes.
Dream Castle is the fourth emergency for the Cox Plate. He beat home only a single runner in the Ladbrokes Stakes.