With the 2013 Cox Plate less than 100 days away, today we will try and countdown the top 10 best performances in the Cox Plate since 1972 as to get the excitement started. It is important to note that from 1971 – 1972 the prize money for the Cox Plate increased by 50% from $30,000 to $45,000. It was at this point that the Cox Plate became a true spring classic. It is also important to apologize to the connections of Super Impose and Bonecrusher. Both these horses missed out on the top ten despite both being very famous victors.
Here we go!
10. Gunsynd 1972.
Gunsynd, trained by Tommy Smith and ridden by Roy Higgins, was a miler. In fact he won the four biggest mile handicappers in Australia, the Doncaster, the Epsom, the now Emirates and the Toorak. But he still managed to win a Cox Plate; he was so tough and so popular that it is impossible to leave him out of the top ten. This was also the second fastest Cox Plate win of the modern era.
9. Might And Power 1998.
The big champ won the Cox Plate the year after his record breaking Caulfield and Melbourne Cup double. The win was not that special; he did not beat a very good field, he only just won and his time was good without being great. However, he did jump at 2s on and everyone at the Valley that day wanted him to win; this is probably so they would be able to witness the first horse since Rising Fast 44 years earlier, to win the famed three spring classics. His owner Nick Moraitis went mad after the win and high fived everyone in the front row on the outside rail. He then went and shouted the bar for 50,000 people for the next two hours!
8. So You Think 2010.
When So You Think won his second consecutive Cox Plate in 2010, there was still debate who was better, Black Caviar or Hay List. Pierro had only just been foaled and Atlantic Jewel had not had a start. So You Think was clearly the best horse in Australia. His price of $1.50 was really good value. After the start, More Joyous tried to run him off his feet, but he broke her heart, then known fast finishers Zipping and Whobegoyou had every right to run past him but they could not. A super win in good time and also a great field.
7. Octagonal 1995.
Octagonal’s Cox Plate win was really good. The big O at the time was a three-year-old, and history says it is harder for a three-year-old to win the Cox Plate. Also the field contained some real champions.
Octagonal beat maybe the best all round horse of the 1990s Mahogany as well as other gun horses Jeune, Danewin and Our Maizcay. But the major reason this win gets in top ten is because Octagonal managed to wear down Mahogany, who was almost impossible to get past. Octagonal won after placing in the Caulfield Guineas. Pierro could not replicate this stat last year.
6. Northerly 2001.
Northerly in this win managed to get past Sunline at the height of her powers. This was a rough and tumble affair that Northerly had no right to win considering he was under pressure about 1000m out. Should have the protests from Sunline and Viscount been upheld? No way! Northerly was so tough and always gave everything he had. The only way he ever lost a race was because he was weighted to heavily or he got injured. The following year, 2002, Northerly won the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate again. He was then given 60kg for the 2002 Melbourne Cup but he was scratched instead of attempting history. The 2001 Cox Plate win gets in ahead of the 2002 because Sunline was at the height of her powers and almost impossible to get past.
5. Dulcify 1979.
Dulcify beat Shivaree by 7 lengths. Shivaree beat the rest of the field by about 4! Shivaree was a really good horse who won multiple Group Ones, so it is very clear that based on the quality of opposition, Dulcify’s win was outstanding. Dulcify’s winning margin of 7 lengths remains the equal biggest winning margin in the history of the race. The time was also in the top five fastest of the modern era. A simply breathtaking win that unfortunately was the second last of Dulcify’s brilliant career.
4. Kingston Town 1982.
Kingston Town is the only horse to ever win three Cox Plates. Famously in the last 600m of this third win, Kingston Town was declared by racecaller Bill Collins to be unable to win from where he was in the run, but he did. This win made Kingston Town became the first millionaire racehorse in Australia. The third of the King’s Cox Plate wins was the fastest and it was also against the best field. Good horse Grosvenor that ran second had previously won the Caulfield Guineas and the VRC Derby. The field also included Gurner’s Lane who won that year’s Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. However, the main reason this win makes it into our top ten is because of its historical significance. No other horse has ever won three Cox Plates but plenty have tried. Lloyd Williams, who had no connection with the King, rates Kingston Town the equal of any horse he has ever seen, including Tulloch.
3. Surround 1976.
Many really good three year old fillies have attempted to win the Cox Plate in their three-year-old year, namely Samantha Miss and Miss Finland, but none are yet to match Surround’s brilliant win in 1976. Surround beat a quality field in great time; but it is the fact that she is still the only three-year-old filly to ever win that Cox Plate that is the most astonishing. A quick study of the race reveals that about 40 three-year-old fillies have tried and these 40 are some of the best of the best fillies to ever race in Australia. Three-year-old fillies have to carry 47.5kg in the Cox Plate while five-year-old and above male horses have to carry 59kg. That is a big difference. But it does show that despite the weight relief, it is almost impossible for a three-year-old filly to win the Cox Plate. It is so hard, that the best fillies now seem to dodge the Cox Plate. Mosheen, Atlantic Jewel, Streama, More Joyous, Sunline are a few that dodged the Cox Plate as a three-year-olds. It was a great win by Surround, and well entitled to a spot in the top three!
2. Sunline 2000.
Sunline won her second Cox Plate by 7 lengths equalling the record of Dulcify. The time was not flash, but what was great was the company she beat so easily. The field included Caulfield Cup winners Sky Heights and Diatribe, all time Sydney champion Tie the Knot, multiple Group One winners Shogun Lodge and Show a Heart and super sire Testa Rossa. A great field that were absolutely flogged by the champion mare.
But the biggest factor that gets Sunline to the silver metal spot is the margin. Since 1972, Kingston Town, Sunline, Northerly and So You Think have all won multiple Cox Plates. Yet, Kingston Town won his second by a length, Northerly battled to a one length win in his second and So You Think fell in after a tough run in his second. So it is therefore much harder to win a second Cox Plate than a first. But Sunline won her second by 7 lengths! Case closed.
1. Makybe Diva 2005.
The Diva’s Cox Plate win was extraordinary. It was extraordinary for the following reasons
-She was being trained for the Cup. No matter what anyone says because her connections knew she was a moral over 3200m with just 58kg
-The field that she beat was one of the best ever. It included Desert War (6 Group One wins), Lotteria (2 Group One wins), Fields of Omaha (2x winner of the Cox Plate), Xcellent (4 Group One wins) and the Caulfield Guineas winner God’s Own.
-Glen Boss rode her like a moral. He was probably a bit confident, but in the end it did not matter.
-The entire field ganged up on her and made her work really hard. The race footage shows how before the turn, the field spread really wide, forcing the Diva to cover lots of extra ground. It is lucky she was being trained for the two miles, otherwise she would not have been strong enough to win.
By Zeb Armstrong