Tony Brassel’s Expert Opinion On The Cox Plate Runners

Highly respected form analyst Tony Brassel believes the “plainest” looking Cox Plate contender will leave Moonee Valley carrying the crown of Australian racing’s premier weight-for-age performer.

“The New Zealander Ocean Park is on the small side, very common in the looks department, but his class and ticker will be there for all to see at the Valley,” Brassel said.

“A bay, he looks nothing like his handsome chestnut sire Thorn Park but he’s a sticker. Thanks in no small part to his damsire Zabeel.”

A member of the Sky Racing team and a finder of future winners via his informative Sun Herald column Brassel points out Ocean Park’s record is hard to fault.

“In 10 starts Ocean Park has won six and run three seconds for Matamata trainer Gary Fennessy,” Brassel said. “It’s a mighty record with three gun group 1 wins this prep, culminating in the Caulfield Stakes over the 2000m on October 13.

“Jockey Glen Boss’s record isn’t bad in the Plate either, having successfully steered So You Think and Makybe Diva.”

(Editor’s Note : Ocean Park’s current TAB Fixed Odds is $7.00)

Brassel was asked to rank the opposition.

SHOOT OUT – “The Chris Waller trained galloper is beautifully drawn in four and $2.8 million in earnings underlines his class. Jockey Hugh Bowman is in superb form either side of the Murray.” (TAB Fixed Odds : $21)

SINCERO – “Gave Ocean Park a real run when third in the Caulfield Stakes. Perhaps he’s a slight doubt in the high pressure WFA championship, but trainer Steve Farley has managed him faultlessly, adopting blinkers for Saturday.” ($31)

GLASS HARMONIUM – “Quirky import from Mike Moroney’s Flemington yard may finally get to lead a Cox Plate after blowing the jump last year. His two runs this preparation have been average though.” ($51)

GREEN MOON – “A big showing is widely expected from this one. The lone imported galloper he’s drawn to get a lovely sit in gate five for jockey Craig Williams and peaks for COS [Chairman of Stables] Lloyd Williams and trainer Robert Hickmott. ($5.00)

REKINDLED INTEREST – “The Jim Conlan-trained galloper ran third to Pinker Pinker in last year’s Plate. He comes off a tenth to Green Moon at Flemington last time.” ($21)

LINTON – “Handles Moonee Valley a treat but improvement is needed after an 11th to Green Moon in the Turnbull. The outside 14 alley seems to have sealed his fate.” ($91)

HAPPY TRAILS – “Won the group 2 Data Tan Stakes over 1600m at the Valley two runs ago. Trainer Paul Beshara’s gelding did labour afterwards when 5th in Green Moon’s Turnbull.” ($41)

ETHIOPIA – “We find he has one career win in six runs, not a bad one either, this year’s Australian Derby at Randwick. The Pat Carey-trained four-year-old is our best long shot.” ($19)

MORE JOYOUS – “Is the highest earner in the race with $4.5 million in the kitty. Do believe she may be vulnerable over the trip if the customary high pressure scenario unfolds.” ($10)

SOUTHERN SPEED – “Trainers Leon Macdonald and Andrew Gluyas send out 2011 Caulfield Cup winner here. There’s a hazard from her wide marble [13], despite a considerable $2.7 million in prizemoney.” ($31)

PIERRO – “Last season’s premier juvenile. He met defeat for the first time at the hands of Team Hawkes’s monster All Too Hard after blistering first 1000m in the Guineas. Pierro was very sluggish from the gates at Caulfield. We’re tipping a ‘livened-up’ Pierro will prove the hardest for Ocean Park to run down on Saturday.” ($4.00)

ALL TOO HARD – “Appreciated the tempo in the Caulfield Guineas and cannot be left out of the top four.” ($10)

PROISIR – “While More Joyous has earnt the most this one is the least accomplished netting $269,630 and like the stablemate is a query at the trip.” ($9.50)

Tony Brassel’s Cox Plate top four are Ocean Park 1, Pierro 2, Ethiopia 3, All Too Hard 4.

By Craig Young

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