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O'Brien, Japan dominate Cox Plate invites

Cracksman. © Racing Post/Racing.com


© Racing Post/Racing.com


By Luke Sheehan

The Moonee Valley Racing Club has revealed their shortlist of 13 international invitees to a date with Winx in October's $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m).

As Chris Waller's superstar mare approaches a bid for an unprecedented four-straight wins in the weight-for-age championship on October 27, the MVRC are looking to find horses from abroad to challenge the rising seven-year-old in her own backyard.

Leading the invite list, stable-wise, is superstar Coolmore trainer Aidan O'Brien, who won the Cox Plate in 2014 with Adelaide.

Since O'Brien's win with Adelaide it has been all Winx - who had three (Highland Reel, Gailo Chop, Arod) international rivals in 2015, one (Vadamos) in '16, and one (Folkswood) last year.

In 2018, the MVRC has invited Saxon Warrior, Mendelssohn and Lancaster Bomber from the O'Brien camp. Saxon Warrior has already banked two Group 1 successes despite being beaten as favourite in last weekend's Epsom Derby.

However, when it comes to invites by country, O'Brien's Irish contingent is trumped by the four sent to Japan - Almond Eye (Sakai Kunieda), Epoca D'Oro (Hideaki Fujinara), Mozu Ascot (Yoshito Yahagi) and Persian Knight (Yasutoshi Ikee).

Coming in with two apiece are the UK (two-time G1 winner Cracksman and Poet's Word) and the UAE - naturally, both from the Saeed bin Suroor stable - with Dubai Turf winner Benbatl and Dubai Gold Cup winner Thunder Snow.

Only one female equine is among the 13 invited to tackle the world's best racehorse - that is filly Almond Eye. She is joined by fellow northern-hemisphere three-year-olds Mendelssohn and Saxon Warrior on the invite list.

There are seven four-year-olds, while Poet's Voice is the only five-year-old among the potential challengers.

Between them, the 13 invitees have won as many Group 1s as the champion herself - 18.

Leading the charge are Cracksman and Thunder Snow with three each, while the elder statesman of the baker's dozen - Poet's Word - is the only horse of the group yet to prevail at the highest level.

Racing Victoria's General Manager of International and Racing Operations, Paul Bloodworth, will appear on Thursday's edition of After The Last with host Shane Anderson to discuss the Cox Plate invitations.

First Round of international invitations for the 2018 Ladbrokes Cox Plate:

CRACKSMAN (UK) - John Gosden
BENBATL (UAE)  - Saeed Bin Suroor
ALMOND EYE (JPN) - Sakae Kunieda
RECOLETOS (FR) - Carlis Laffon-Parias
MOZU ASCOT (JPN) - Yoshito Yahagi
POET’S WORD (UK) - Sir Michael Stoute
YOSHIDA (USA) - William Mott
THUNDER SNOW (UAE) - Saeed bin Suroor
EPOCA D’ORO (JPN) - Hideaki Fujiwara
PERSIAN KNIGHT (JPN) - Yasutoshi Ikee

This article first appeared on the Racing Victoria website (racing.com) and is reprinted here with their kind permission. For more on the Off the Track program please visit rv.racing.com/the-horse/off-the-track





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