|Group I race|
|W S Cox Plate|
|Location||Moonee Valley Racecourse|
|Inaugurated||1922 (list of Cox Plate winners)|
|Race type||Thoroughbred - Flat racing|
|Website||Moonee Valley Racing Club|
|Distance||2,040m (10.2 furlongs)|
|Qualification||Three-year-olds and up|
The W.S. Cox Plate is a Group 1 Thoroughbred horse race held annually in late October by the Moonee Valley Racing Club in honour of W.S. Cox, the club's founder. The race, for three-year-olds and over, is considered to be the Weight for Age championship of Australasia. It is run over 2,040 metres (2,231 yards) on turf, and carries Australia's richest weight-for-age prize, which in 2007 was AUD$3 million.
The Cox Plate is rated by many to be the truest test of horses' abilities in Australia, and in 1999 it was included in the Emirates World Series Racing Championship, a global "grand prix" of horse racing. The series includes the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, the Japan Cup, the Dubai World Cup, the Arlington Million, the Hong Kong Cup, the Canadian International Stakes, the Grosser Preis von Baden, the Irish Champion Stakes, and Breeders' Cup Turf and Breeders' Cup Classic.
The list of past winners of the W.S. Cox Plate contains most of the champion racehorses of Australia and New Zealand. Many great horses have won the race twice, including Phar Lap, Flight, Tobin Bronze, Sunline, Northerly and Fields Of Omagh. The legend Kingston Town won the race three times.
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.
Only three horses have ever won the Melbourne Cup and then gone on to win the W.S. Cox Plate the following year, they were; Phar Lap, Might and Power and Makybe Diva.
W.S. Cox is the shortened name of William Samuel Cox, 1831-1895.
The first Cox Plate was run in 1922 and won by the imported English horse Violoncello, who also won his next three starts during the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
The 1925 race was taken out by the brilliant but erratic three-year-old Manfred who went on to win the VRC Derby and ran second to Windbag in the Melbourne Cup.
Champion New Zealand bred Nightmarch won in 1929 before the immortal Phar Lap took out the race in 1930 and 1931. Another two times winner of the race was Chatham in 1932 and 1934 as was Young Idea in 1936 and 1937.
The 1938 race was won by the brilliant Ajax (36 wins from 46 races) in race record time. Outstanding New Zealand champion Beau Vite, a winner of 31 races, won in 1940 and 1941.
Due to restrictions on interstate travel the race was only contested by local horses from 1942 to 1944. In 1946 the Cox Plate was run in two divisions with the great mare Flight winning the stronger division, and became a dual winner following her victory a year earlier. Hydrogen became the seventh dual winner of the race with victories in 1952 and 1953. The great dual Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup winner Rising Fast won in 1954. Redcraze, the 32 race winner and New Zealand champion, took out the Plate in 1957, as a seven-year-old, ridden by George Moore. Noholme took nearly a full second off the race record in a brilliant front running display to win in 1959.
The mighty Tulloch, who is often compared to Phar Lap and Carbine, won the following year, and again set a new race record. Tobin Bronze became a dual winner of the race with victories in 1966 and 1967. The 1969 Cox Plate was won by the New Zealand three-year-old colt Daryl's Joy, who went on to race successfully in the USA. The popular Goondiwindi grey, Gunsynd, was trainer Tommy Smith's third winner of the Cox Plate in 1972, and the New Zealand Derby winner Fury's Order staggered to victory on a bog track in 1975. Surround became the first three-year-old filly to win the race in 1976, when she defeated the VRC Derby winner Unaware.
The ill-fated Dulcify strode away to win by seven lengths in 1979. He later started favourite in the Melbourne Cup but had to be put down after breaking a pelvis during the race. The only triple winner of the Cox Plate, the mighty Kingston Town, won in 1980, 1981 and 1982. On each occasion he was ridden by a different jockey: Malcolm Johnston in 1980, Ron Quinton in 1981, and Peter Cook in 1982. After winning in 1983, Strawberry Road raced in Europe and the US where he ran fifth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp and third to Seattle Song in the 1984 Washington, D.C. International at Laurel. Red Anchor's victory in 1984 was trainer T.J. Smith's seventh Cox Plate winner. The 1986 Cox Plate was an epic two horse war over the final 800 metres before Bonecrusher triumphed over Our Waverley Star by a neck. This epic encounter became known as the Race of the Century.
Rubiton, the winner in 1987, went on to a successful stud career where he sired a future Cox Plate winner in Fields of Omagh. Better Loosen Up was 30 lengths from the lead, with 1000 metres to run, before winning the 1990 Plate in record time. He went on to become the first - and remains the only - Australian horse to win the Japan Cup. The eight-year-old Super Impose won in 1992 and defeated a top class field which included Better Loosen Up, Let's Elope and favourite Naturalism, who lost his rider. Naturalism went on to run second in the Japan Cup. Australian Horse of the Year Octagonal was successful in defeating Mahogany in 1995, while Saintly gave Bart Cummings his second winner of the race in 1996 and Dane Ripper his third winner the following year. The 'Peoples Champion' Might and Power led throughout to win in 1998, setting the current record time of 2m 03.54s, and returned to scale to a massive ovation from racegoers.
In a brilliant front running display, Sunline won the 1999 Cox Plate, and returned in 2000 to win again by seven lengths and to equal Dulcify's record winning margin, before West Australian champion Northerly defeated Sunline to win in 2001 and 2002. In 2004 Savabeel became the first 3 year old to win since Octagonal. In 2005, Makybe Diva triumphed and became one of the most popular horses in Australian racing history with an unprecedented third Melbourne Cup win 10 days later.
Fields Of Omagh won his second Cox Plate in 2006, having already won in 2003, finished second in 2004 and third behind Makybe Diva in 2005. In 2007 El Segundo won the Cox Plate avenging his close defeat to Fields Of Omagh the year before. In 2008 Maldivian lead all the way to claim victory, while So You Think, at just his fifth career start, was an easy winner in 2009, giving Bart Cummings his fourth training victory in the race.
For a list of Cox Plate winning horses see List of Cox Plate winners.