Frankel Heads The List Of Sportingbet Cox Plate Invites
Headlining an impressive list of well credentialed international contenders is the Sir Henry Cecil trained champion 4yo entire Frankel, owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah. Undefeated in ten starts, including six Group 1 victories, Frankel resumed in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on May 19, winning comfortably by 5 lengths. Frankel currently sits atop of the World Thoroughbred Rankings with a rating of 138.
With a tentative programme mapped out that could include the Queen Anne Stakes (1600 metres) at Royal Ascot on June 19, followed by the Sussex Stakes (1600 metres) at Goodwood on August 1, Frankel could then step up to the 2000 metre journey for the first time in the Juddmonte Stakes at York on August 22.
Moonee Valley Racing Club Chairman Bob Scarborough is excited by the possibility of enticing Frankel to Melbourne to contest the Sportingbet Cox Plate. “Frankel is widely regarded in the northern hemisphere as a once in a generation champion thoroughbred. All of his victories have been dominant, and he is clearly better than the current crop of UK middle distance horses. Just as Black Caviar has accepted the challenge to step out of her comfort zone and travel half way around the world to prove that she is without peer in the sprinting ranks at Royal Ascot, I am hopeful that the connections of Frankel will accept our invitation to travel to Melbourne to contest the Weight-For-Age Championship in the southern hemisphere – the Sportingbet Cox Plate”.
Champion French galloper Cirrus Des Aigles is also high on the Moonee Valley wish list, having proven himself to be one of the truly international weight-for-age gallopers over the past 18 months. Trained by Mrs. Corine Barande-Barbe, Cirrus Des Aigles achieved a career high last October when defeating So You Think at Ascot in the British Champions Stakes at Ascot in October. On racing’s biggest stage, Cirrus Des Aigles won the Dubai Sheema Classic over 2400 metres on World Cup night, and followed up with another Group 1 victory in the Prix Ganay over 2200 metres at Longchamp on April 29.
Dubai World Cup hero Monterosso has also been invited to contest the Sportingbet Cox Plate. Trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni, Monterosso sports the Godolphin blue, and would be looking to surpass the Cox Plate performance of Grandera, who finished 3rd in 2002 behind Northerly.
Hong Kong champion Xtension returned to form in winning the Group 1 Champions Mile at Sha Tin in April, and trainer John Moore has expressed keen interest in travelling this 5yo gelding to Melbourne for the Spring Racing Carnival. A winner of 4 of his 22 starts and over HK$27M in prizemoney, Xtension will be one of the key runners in the Cox Plate this October.
Japan has received two invitations, with Sunday Racing duo Rulership and Deep Brillante selected to represent the land of the rising sun. Rulership stamped his credentials with an impressive 4 length victory in the QE II Cup at Sha Tin over 2000 metres in April. A winner of 5 of his 12 starts, this 5yo entire is trained by Katsuhiko Sumii and would be well suited to the Moonee Valley circuit and Cox Plate journey.
Deep Brillante, a 3yo son of Deep Impact, stepped up to 2400 metres at his last start, winning the Japan Derby in impressive fashion. Lightly raced, Deep Brillante has been highly rated by the leading judges in Japan, and looks to be a star of the future.
French entire Planteur is another to have proven himself on the world stage, having won the Group 1 Prix Ganay in 2011. With a change of ownership and trainer, Planteur is now under the care of Marco Botti, who is looking to bring both Jakkalberry and Crackerjack King to Melbourne for the feature Spring Carnival races.
This season, Planteur travelled to Dubai where he finished 3rd in the World Cup, and then returned to France where he finished 3rd behind Golden Lilac and Cirrus Des Aigles in the Prix d’Ispahan last month.
Coolmore galloper Excelebration has also received an invitation to contest the 2012 Sportingbet Cox Plate. Trained at Ballydoyle by Aidan O’Brien, Excelebration has proven himself to be one of the leading 1400m – 1600m gallopers, winning 6 of 11 starts. Of his five defeats, four have been at the hands of Frankel. With an international rating of 126, and with a view to establishing the son of Exceed and Excel as a shuttle stallion, Coolmore may see significant benefit in lining him up in the Cox Plate.
Cityscape, winner of the 2012 Dubai Duty Free over 1800 metres on World Cup night is another of the frequent flyer international horses to attract an invitation for the 2012 Cox Plate. Owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah and trained by Roger Charlton, Cityscape contested the Group 1 Champions Mile at Sha Tin in April following his Dubai win. A six-time winner from 18 starts, Cityscape may look to continue racing abroad in 2012.
The last of the ten invited runners is the French mare Golden Lilac. Trained by Andre Fabre, this 4yo daughter of Galileo returned in fine form after ten months away from the track with a devastating win in the Prix d’Ispahan first-up over 1800 metres. A three-time Group 1 winner, including the Prix De Diane over 2200 metres in June 2011, Golden Lilac has taken the step up from the 3yo fillies classics and now proven herself against the leading weight-for-age European horses.
International Recruitment Manager for Racing Victoria, Leigh Jordon, believes that the Moonee Valley Racing Club has identified the leading horses from each of the major racing jurisdictions that are worthy of taking their place in the 2012 Sportingbet Cox Plate. “I have worked closely with the Moonee Valley team to evaluate the international form over the past 12 months, and we have agreed on the ten leading contenders that we believe could win the 2012 Cox Plate. The invitation to compete in the Cox Plate is highly sought after, with the MVRC fully subsidizing all expenses incurred in travelling to Melbourne to contest the Weight-For-Age Championship of the southern hemisphere.
“Whilst we have seen international winners of both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, the Cox Plate has remained an elusive prize for international competitors. Each of these ten horses are highly credentialed, and they have proven themselves at the highest level over 1600m - 2000m in some of the world’s toughest races. In what is shaping up as a vintage Cox Plate, international representation will add an exciting element to this great race”.
Entries for the $3M Group 1 Sportingbet Cox Plate close on August 7, 2012.
Summary: 2012 Sportingbet Cox Plate Invitees
1. Frankel (Owner: Prince Khalid Abdullah Trainer: Sir Henry Cecil)
2. Cirrus Des Aigles (Owner: Jean-Claude & Alain Dupouy Trainer: Mme Corine Barande-Barbe)
3. Monterosso (Owner: Godolphin Trainer: Mahmood Al Zarooni)
4. Xtension (Owners: Mr & Mrs Steven Lo Kit Sing Trainer: John Moore)
5. Rulership (Owner: Sunday Racing Co Ltd Trainer: Katsuhiko Sumii)
6. Deep Brillante (Owner: Sunday Racing Co Ltd Trainer: Yoshito Yahagi)
7. Planteur (Owner: A Al Falasi & M A Albousi Trainer: Marco Botti)
8. Excelebration Owners: D Smith, Mrs J Magnier, M Tabor Trainer: Aidan O’Brien)
9. Cityscape (Owner: Prince Khalid Abdullah Trainer: Roger Charlton)
10. Golden Lilac (Owner: Gestut Ammerland Trainer: Andre Fabre)