The race is officially the W. S. Cox Plate. Most people simply call it the Cox Plate, so that is the format we will use here. The Cox Plate winner gains a ballot exemption for the Melbourne Cup.
It is named for William Samuel Cox, the founder of the Moonee Valley Racing Club (MVRC). He was well and truly dead when the Cox Plate was first run in 1922, but his contribution to Australian Thoroughbred racing dates back to 1874, when he opened Kensington Park Racecourse.
Cox Plate Race Details
Racecourse: Moonee Valley
Race Distance: 2040m
Prize Money: $5,000,000
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When Is The Cox Plate: 26/10/24
What Time Is The Cox Plate: TBA
Where Is The Cox Plate: Moonee Valley Racecourse
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More Details About The Cox Plate
Kensington lasted only eight years, until 1882. The next year, Cox started the MVRC. William Samuel’s two sons, Archie and W.S. Jr., along with Junior’s son William Stanley Cox, and then his son William Murray, have been involved in running racing for well over 100 years, so the whole lot was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2006.
The Cox family has saved a fortune in monogramming expenses through the years by repeatedly reusing the initials W.S. In the spirit of disclosure, we named a daughter using our initials and to her eternal credit, she has never forged our signature on loan papers.
Recent Cox Plate History
Over the years, the Cox Plate has attracted the best horses, something clearly revealed by the Cox Plate field 2019. The winner in 2019, Japan’s Lys Gracieux, has won or ran well placed in her homeland to the tune of more than $13 million in prize money. Her one venture to Australia resulted in the Cox Plate win. Even though there were good Cox Plate horses 2019, Lys Gracieux was clearly in a class of her own, something her Cox Plate time of 2:04.21 was clear evidence.
She came from near the back of the pack in 10th place in the final 400 metres to run down a field of multiple Group 1 in winners in a strong Cox Plate field to notch a comfortable 1.5 length victory over Group 1 Rosehill Guineas and Group 1 Champagne Stakes winner Castelvecchio.
The 2019 Cox Plate was almost conceded to Lys Gracieux, as she jumped $2.50 in 2019 Cox Plate betting, with the next closest in the Cox Plate odds being Mystic Journey for $7.50. Also in her wake were good horses such as Te Aku Shark, Mystic Journey, Kings Will Dream, Verry Elleegant and others of that calibre.
Lys Gracieux covered the 2040 metres of Good 4 Moonee Valley turf in the Cox Plate 2019 time 2:04.21, with sub-36 second Cox Plate sectional time over the last 600 metres.
Recent Cox Plate history can be concluded with one word, or more precisely, one name.
Winx - Four Time W.S Cox Plate Winner
Without question and even though we have devoted many reams to the career of the top all-time Cox Plate winner, Winx is worthy of some additional space.
By winning the Cox Plate four times, Winx eclipsed a record that was thought unassailable by many of the Thoroughbred racing cognoscenti.
Kingston Town’s three wins in 1980, 1981 and 1982 would tend to make one think that he was the best ever to line up in the Cox Plate. See Best Bets for next years Cox Plate.
Any mention of Kingston Town’s three wins or Phar Lap’s two must invoke the name of his successor, Chatham, who nearly notched a treble Cox Plate string from 1932 – 1934. Chatham won in 1932 and 1934 and the 1933 race was nearly his as well, even though he finished fourth.
When you encounter names such as Phar Lap (1930, 1931), suggesting that Kingston Town was the better of the two would ignite an argument that would not easily be doused. Phar Lap jumped for the lowest price in the history of the race in 1931, when punters received seven cents for every dollar plonked on the King.
Even when Winx won her third Cox Plate in 2017, she paid $1.10 and when Makybe Diva won in 2005 just ahead of her monumental third consecutive Melbourne Cup win, she offered a princely dividend of $2.
Most racing experts agree that the running conditions and the tight conditions of the Cox Plate place a premium on horses that can handle tight turns without losing momentum. - Horse Racing Australia.
Winx was capable of that and what makes her four wins all the more remarkable was that she was a Sydney horse and accustomed to making right turns when she raced in New South Wales. It was not as though she had never run anti-clockwise while racing in Victoria and she was obviously a phenom, but Thoroughbred racing history is replete with horses from NSW that could not handle the switch to Victoria and the same is true for Victorian horses that never quite equaled their accomplishments when sent north to race.
So, when Winx jumped in her first Cox Plate in 2015, it seemed an instance of a good horse rising throughout a spring campaign. She had won five races earlier in the preparation, but she was still a relatively unknown entity when she left the Cox Plate barrier for $4.60. She was favourite for that price and the 2015 Cox Plate win could have been considered the harbinger of dividends that seldom exceeded $2.
That first Cox Plate win was almost five lengths better than second and third place getters Criterion and Highland Reel and in a sport where 1.5 lengths is considered a comfortable win, Winx so outclassed the rest of the field that most observers were left dumbstruck.
When she resumed in 2016, Winx was again turning right at Rosehill and Randwick. She had one race at Caulfield to prepare to run anti-clockwise and she won a Group 1 Caulfield Stakes where only Black Heart Bart and He Or She would line up agasint her.
Her reputation had grown to the degree that in her next race, the 2016 Cox Plate, only nine horses dared to take her on. The large gap from her 2015 win was expanded from five to almost nine lengths, with second place Hartnell back by eight and third placer Yankee rose eight and three quarters back.
Cox Plate win number three in 2017 was a low water mark for punters. Winx went out for $1.10. Only seven other horses lined up, but the closest in price was Royal Symphony at $19 and two went out for $101. Humidor made a race of it at the end and tried valiantly to hold off the hard-charge, but he was run down and beaten by half a length, while the rest of the field was nearly entirely out of the frame.
The final Cox Plate win in 2018 again found few willing competitors. The field was eight, but unlike some of the Sydney races where Chris Waller had to empty his barns to fill fields when Winx was running, Waller had only to send of D’Argento. One source quotes Winx having started for $1.24, while another quotes her price as $1.20, but this final Cox Plate win was the sort that experts would call comfortable, as Winx was two lengths clear of Benbatl, with the rest of the field almost five lengths of more to the rear.
It would have been a great point to call time, but Winx was not done. She returned for the autumn of 2019, won the Group 2 Apollo Stakes for the second time, backed by Group 1 wins at Randwick and Rosehill, culminating with her third win in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
More Cox Plate History
The Cox Plate was first run in 1922. It was won by Violoncello, a most capable horse, apparently, because he won his next three races during the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival. He was English born and bred, but he was sent to New South Wales in 1920.
Violoncello won the Caulfield Cup in 1921 coming over following six starts for three wins in England.
The remarkable thing about Violoncello was that he was seven years old when he was sent to NSW.
Cox Plate Winners 1925 – 1939
The post WWI Cox Plates featured wins by some of the greatest of all time.
In 1925, Manfred won and did an encore of Violoncello by winning the 1926 Caulfield Cup. He was a temperamental bloke, that Manfred was. Some racing fans will remember when Winx was caught napping in the barrier in the 2017 Warwick Stakes and spotted the field two lengths, almost nipping her eventual 33 straight wins in the middle.
Manfred spotted his rivals 100 metres in the 1925 AJC Derby. When Bill Duncan managed to get Manfred’s motor to turn over, they overtook the field and won the race by 1- ½ lengths.
The following week, Manfred pulled another Chautauqua and would not race when he lone up for the Caulfield Guineas. He then won the Cox Plate and the VRC Derby before announcing his retirement by refusing to leave the barriers in his last two starts.
It was Heroic for the 1926 win. His connections had wanted to run him in the Melbourne Cup in 1924, but his nominations were denied over some stewards’ kerfuffle involving a stablemate.
The subsequent Cox Plates in 1927 were won by Amounis, Highland (1928), Nightmarch (1929) and Phar Lap (1930, 1931). At times it seems to us that Phar Lap won races in which he did not run, along with a VFL Grand Final.
Chatham (1934), Rogilla (1933), Chatham again (1934) followed Phar Lap’s wins.
Young Idea, a horse that has seemed to fallen into obscurity, won the Cox Plate in 1936 and 1937.
Ajax was the winner in 1938. He won as a juvenile in the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes in 1937. He was strong all that year and the next two as well. His specialty was winning big races three times in a row, which he did in the All Aged Stakes, Futurity Stakes, Memsie Stakes and Underwood Stakes between 1938 – 1940. Ajax made 46 starts, winning 36 times, placing nine times and ran unplaced only once.
Cox Plate Winners 1940 – 1960
These years were remarkable for multiple Cox Plate winners.
Beau Vite won in 1940 and 1941. In 1942 and 1944, it was Tranquil Star. Flight captured the Cox Plate in 1942 and 1944.
Then came Carbon Copy in 1948, followed by Delta in 1949.
Delta was notable for being one of the few Thoroughbreds to win the Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup (1951). He beat champions such as Hydrogen and Dalray and was one of three horses to win the Chelmsford Stakes three times, along with Limerick (1926 – 1928) and Roman Consul (1967 – 1969).
Several horses that were among the best to race came next.
Those horses are, Hydrogen (1952, 1953), Rising Fast (1954 + Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup same year), Redcraze (1957) and Tulloch (1960).
Cox Plate Winners 1961 – 1979
Obviously, any horse capable of winning the Cox Plate had to be a good one, but these are the ones that leap off the page.
Tobin Bronze (1966, 1967) – This great champion was 18 of his 28 wins were the sort that would be classified as Group races today. When he won his second Cox Plate in 1967, he also won that year’s Caulfield Cup.
Gunsynd (1972) – Along with winning the Cox Plate, Gunsynd nearly won the Melbourne Cup that year and the list of major wins for 1972 is so extensive that he was named Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year.
Surround (1976) – She won the Cox Plate as a three-year-old, the only filly to be able to make that claim.
Dulcify (1979) – The most important win of his career, Dulcify won the 1979 Cox Plate by seven lengths. He jumped favourite in the 1979 Melbourne Cup, but broke his pelvis during the race and had to be put down.
3 Time Cox Plate Winner
This could be one of only two and since Winx would go on to win four Cox Plates, this would leave Kingston Town.
Kingston Town is what might be called a freak in modern vernacular. He won the Cox Plate in 1980, 1981 and 1982. Hard to say what he might have won beyond what he did, as he missed the autumn carnivals those years due to injury and race only during the spring.
His last win was forever enshrined in Australian Thoroughbred racing history for the famous quote, “'Kingston Town can't win. He might win yet the champ. Kingston Town’s swamping them, Kingston Town,” by Bill Collins race caller.
Cox Plate Winners 1983 – 1998
This stretch of Cox Plate history includes quite a list of great champions.
Strawberry Road (1983) – He won in Australia, France, Japan and Germany.
Red Anchor (1984) – Winner of the Champagne Stakes, Victoria Derby and Caulfield Guineas, Red Anchor was the 1985 Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year, but he retired during his three-year-old season.
Bonecrusher (1986) – First horse from New Zealand to be named Horse of the Year in New Zealand and Australia.
Rubiton (1987) – Track record to that date of 2:02.9. Began racing as a sprinter. Sire of two-time Cox Plate winner Fields of Omagh.
Better Loosen Up (1990) – Also won the Japan Cup that same year and was Australian Horse of the Year in 1991.
Super Impose (1992) – Winner of the Epsom and Doncaster Handicaps two years in a row (1990, 1991). He was an eight-year-old when he won the Cox Plate and his career saw him win Group races at every metro track in Sydney and Melbourne. Super Impose concluded his career after running 15th in the 1992 Melbourne Cup.
Octagonal (1995) – Australian Champion Two Year Old (1995), Australian Champion Three Year Old (1996) and Australian Horse of the Year (1996).
Saintly (1996) – Saintly won the Australian Cup and the Melbourne Cup that year.
Might And Power (1998) – Won the Cups Double in 1997 with wins in the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.
21st Century Cox Plate Winners
The next four Cox Plates were won by Sunline (1999, 2000) and Northerly (2001, 2002). Sunline won or placed in 44 of her 48 starts.
Northerly, winning his second Cox Plate in 2002, also won the Caulfield Cup.
The 2003 Cox Plate winner, Fields of Omagh, produced the unusual feat of winning again in 2006.
It was Makybe Diva in 2005. Shen then went on to win her record-setting third consecutive Melbourne Cup.
So You Think was the winner in 2009 and 2010. He is a dual Hall of Famer, first in the New Zealand Hall and into the Australian Hall in 2019.
As we have already covered at the top of the article Winx had a period of utter domination between 2015 and 2018 winning a ridiculous four Cox Plate titles and in doing so surpassing the 3 won by the great Kingston Town between 1980 and 82.
It was dissapointing that in 2019, trainer Chris Waller and connections decided to retire the Group 1 legend rather than compete against Japanese horse Lys Gracieux who would eventually win the race with ease the first year Winx didn't run in the race.
Cox Plate 2020
The 2020 Cox Plate date is set for 24 October. Many people will be following to learn the Cox Plate field and Cox Plate barrier draw before having a look at the bookie quotes. Cox Plate tips will be in steady demand, as will Cox Plate news about the runners, jockeys, etc.
Prices do not mean all that much this far ahead of Cox Plate 2020, but it would seem that Russian Camelot is a heavy favourite.
It is often noted that 11 horses have won the Caulfield Cup – Melbourne Cup double, but the list of those that have won the Cox Plate followed by the Melbourne Cup in the same year is shorter by four horses. Only seven have managed to win both in the same year.
Running conditions may account for that to some extent, as horses that are well suited for weight-for-age racing such as the Cox Plate are not necessarily good for the handicap conditions of the Melbourne Cup.
The short list of seven is comprised of Phar Lap, Nightmarch, Makybe Diva, Might And Power, Saintly, Delta and Rising Fast.
The list of horses to win a Melbourne Cup and then win the Cox Plate in the following year is even shorter, just Phar Lap, Might And Power and Makybe Diva.
Only one horse has ever won the race in the same year as winning the Melbourne and Caulfield cups, Rising Fast (1954), considered by many to be the greatest ever horse from New Zealand. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Cox Plate Past Winners
|2021||State Of Rest|
|2010||So You Think|
|2009||So You Think|
|2006||Fields Of Omagh|
|2003||Fields Of Omagh|
|1998||Might And Power|
|1993||The Phantom Chance|
|1990||Better Loosen Up|
|1988||Our Poetic Prince|
|1977||Family Of Man|
|1924||The Night Patrol|