W.S. COX PLATE
The Cox Plate is considered Australia's best race.
The Melbourne Cup is the race that stops a nation, but the Cox Plate is the race for the elite. Good horses get left out of this race (such as Keiai Nautique) because the Moonee Valley committee are staunch on this 2040m event being only for the best of the best.
And who can knock them for that!?!
So, this year, we have 10 superstars ready to tackle The Valley.
Time to find the winner of the 101st Cox Plate.
Aside from (maybe) CAPTIVANT and CALLSIGN MAV, I can see any horse in this Cox Plate claiming the spoils.
At one point in time, ZAAKI was the white-hot favourite but a fail in the Might And Power has seen his odds drift. His best can definitely win this but there are many conflicting opinions about where this fella is at. Trainer Annabelle is very confident about his chances and says small issues such as bandages and poor track work are traits the horse always carries.
James McDonald travels down from NSW to ride - so that's a decent push.
A pair of internationals join the spring carnival with Joseph O'Brien's Group 1-winning charge State of Rest and former European galloper now under the care of Maher-Eustace, Gold Trip.
GOLD TRIP gets Damien Oliver and will be looking for the forecast rain. It's a considerably more potent horse on a softer track. Has only won one race which was over 2200m so there must be a query on the horse winning at the 2040m.
STATE OF REST is a more accomplished animal with a last-start Group 1 win at Saratoga in the United States. Experts have labelled this horse as an equal to Adelaide when that horse came to The Valley to claim the 2014 Cox Plate for Aidan O'Brien and champion hoop, Ryan Moore.
Form from its Saratoga win has held up and we know Joseph O'Brien is becoming a master at sending the correct horses to win our great races.
Of the best locals, outside of Zaaki, VERRY ELLEEGANT is a forgotten horse based off one poor run. Every athlete has bad days and she's no different - you'd be foolish not to give her the benefit of the doubt. Keep her very safe, especially with some expected rain.
Boom three-year-old ANAMOE joins this elite crop off a Caulfield Guineas win and excellent run in the Golden Rose. With 49.5kg on its back, you'd have to think - even from the wide alley - he's a massive chance. The three-year-olds have a nice record in this event and this looks like a super smart colt.
The last two who demand major attention are Kiwi megastar mare PROBABEEL and two-time Group 1-winning colt MO'UNGA.
Mo'unga ran Incentivise to a length a few back and was wide and back in the Epsom. Hugh Bowman treks down to ride and at $17, it'd be no surprise to see the son of Savabeel winning.
Probabeel copped a wet track in last year's Cox Plate and may do so again here, so her chances of even running in the race may be questionable. On a good track, doing little work from midfield, she'd give any of these a fright. Remembering she did roll over Zaaki at her most recent run.
MY PICKS: 1 STATE OF REST $10 2 MO'UNGA $17 3 VERRY ELLEEGANT $6 4 ZAAKI $2.80
And, 20 hours previous, despite everyone wanting to knock the race... we have a very competitive and even Manikato Stakes.
MANIKATO STAKES (1200m, Group 1, $1 million) Yes, The Everest has gobbled up much of the talent that would've been in this race but we've still got a competitive and even bunch.
INGRATIATING is the young horse with the most upside but STREETS OF AVALON, JONKER and SAVATOXL are all consistent and capable horses.
LA MEXICANA is a horse who rarely runs a poor one and reflects enormous value at $20 with Sportsbet.
EXPRESS PASS is another at giant odds worth a throw because it feels like a race where the exotics will be huge - if you can find the right horses.
I like La Mexicana each way and I'll back Ingratiating provided I can get a better price than $5.
TIP - (11) Ingratiating $5+ and (10) La Mexicana $20 each way.
BEST BETS FOR THE WEEKEND: MOONEE VALLEY (Friday) Race One: (6) Marine One $3.30 Race Five: (3) Rock Tycoon $18 each way
Race Seven: (10) La Mexicana $20 each way and (11) Ingratiating $5
MOONEE VALLEY (Saturday) Race Three: (2) New York Baby $4
Race Six: (5) Elephant $3
Race Nine: (8) State of Rest $10 Race Ten: (4) Annavisto $4