Rein in Your Optimism Ms. Payne Kaspersky not Cox Plate Worthy

Fifth place in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes has jockey Michelle Payne talking the big swagger about her ride at England’s Royal Ascot, Kaspersky, as a legitimate Cox Plate contender.

The flaw in that sense of confidence can be revealed with one word.


We do not hold any animus toward Kaspersky. We like the way he looks, we like the way he runs, and we love his name. He has done well, in a middling sense, but no thoroughbred with fewer than two Group 1 wins, of which Kaspersky has none, belongs on the Moonee Valley track with Sydney’s might mare.

The winner of the Queen Anne, Ribchester, one of Godolphin’s inexhaustible stable, has received an invitation to the Cox Plate. The Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot was the first and only Group 1 win for him. His pedigree seems to be in order and he has won or place 11 times from 12 jumps, but he is untried at Cox Plate distance and it is doubtful that the four-year-old out of Ireland has the experience merely to stay in the same frame with Winx.

Even with their deep pockets, Goldolphin might reasonably conclude that the airfare to get Ribchester to Moonee Valley might not provide a reasonable return on investment, unless they would like to expose him to Australia’s large pool of broodmares.

On the flip side, Irish trainer Willie Mullins might have a bonafide Melbourne Cup contender in Thomas Hobson, winner of the 4000 m Ascot Handicap. His run in England moved him into the Melbourne Cup picture with a TAB quote that firmed to $26.

Mullins came close to winning the Melbourne Cup in 2015, when Max Dynamite had the best view of Payne and the winner, Prince of Penzance, in what had to be considered one of the most monumental surprises of the season.

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