Seven-figure punter drops historic Winx bet
CHRIS Waller has said all there is to say about Winx in the long build-up to the mare's historic fourth Cox Plate mission.
Now it's over to the champion herself to do the talking on the racetrack on Saturday at Moonee Valley.
Winx has done that for 3-1/2 years during a winning sequence of 28 races including 21 Group One victories.
"She's well," Waller said.
"One more sleep to go, that's about all I can say.
"She's 100 per cent. It's getting closer and closer. And everything is perfect."
Winx is striving to do what no horse has done before in Australasia's weight- for-age championship.
One punter was so convinced she'd take out the Cox they put a whopping $201,200 on her Saturday morning. The wager beat the previous highest outlay, also by the same person, of $170,000 @ $1.16 in the Turnbull Stakes earlier in the month.
"We were asking the question during the week as to whether or not this punter would be coming back to have another crack at Winx and we didn't have to wait too long this morning to find out," TAB's Andrew Georgiou said.
"The punter has invested seven-figures on her throughout her winning run and just keeps rolling the dice.
"This latest bet is the biggest we've ever taken on Winx and passes the $170,000 which was outlaid on her to win the Turnbull Stakes a few weeks back."
A year Winx she joined Kingston Town as the only three-time Cox Plate winner but come Saturday afternoon the seven-year-oldcould stand alone. Waller is convinced Winx is as well as ever and goes into Saturday in basically the same condition as before her third Cox Plate last year when sherepelled a strong challenge from Humidor to better the 2040m track record she had set in her first Cox Plate in 2015.
Humidor is among Winx's main rivals again while two northern hemisphere visitors, Benbatl and Rostropovich, and one New Zealand mare, Savvy Coup,have taken up the challenge in the field of eight.
Irish training maestro Aidan O'Brien and jockey Ryan Moore won the last Cox Plate not to feature Winx when Adelaide was successful in 2014, and they combine again with Rostropovich in the race that has had a $2 million prizemoney injection to $5 million this year.
Godolphin's Benbatl won the Group One Caulfield Stakes two weeks ago and will be ridden by English-based Irish jockey OisinMurphy.
Murphy arrived in Melbourne on Friday excited about the Cox Plate challenge having spent a couple of months in Melbourne asan apprentice in 2013-14. "Take nothing away from Winx, her record is absolutely outstanding and her connections have done an unbelievable job managing her career," Murphy told Melbourne radio RSN927.
"Realistically on ratings and everything she's a standout and she's well-clear but Benbatl comes into the race in good form." Murphy has five wins from eight rides on Benbatl including two at Group One level this year in the UAE and Germany.
"I get on really well with the horse and it's an opportunity I'm going to savour and I can't wait for tomorrow," he said.
COX PLATE FIELD
1. BENBATL (Barrier 3)
2. HUMIDOR (Barrier 7)
3. KINGS WILL DREAM (Barrier 4)
4. AVILIUS (Barrier 1)
5. D'ARGENTO (Barrier 2)
6. WINX (Barrier 6)
7. ROSTROPOVICH (Barrier 8)
8. SAVVY COUP (Barrier 5)
THE DAY OF RACING
Race 1 (12.10pm) - Inglis Banner (1000m)
Race 2 (12.40pm) - Strathmore Community Bendigo Bank Handicap (955m)
2. DESERT LASHES
3. INVINCIBLE AL
Race 3 (1.15pm) - Powerflo Solutions Stakes (1600m)
Race 4 (1.50pm) - Harolds Crockett Stakes (1200m)
Race 5 (2.25pm) - 1300 Australia Stakes (1200m)
Race 6 (3pm) - Aquis Farm Fillies Classic (1600m)
Race 7 (3.35pm) - Schweppes Crystal Mile (1600m)
Race 8 (4.10pm) - McCafe Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m)
RACE 9 (5PM) - LADBROKES COX PLATE (2040M)
Race 10 (5.50pm) - Drummond Golf Vase (2040m)
CAULFIELD CUP: KEY STATS
LLOYD WILLIAMS AND THE CAULFIELD CUP Lloyd Williams has won six Melbourne Cups dating back to 1981 but he had to wait until 2013 to win his first Caulfield Cup with Fawkner. He has shares in three Cup runners - The Cliffsofmoher, The Taj Mahal and Homesman
DAMIEN OLIVER AIMS TO JOIN SCOBIE BREASLEY ON FIVE WINS The turn of the century hasn't been kind for Damien Oliver as he looks to improve his Caulfield Cup record. Oliver needs one more to join Scobie Breasley as the highest winning jockey in Caulfield Cup history. Oliver's last win came aboard Sky Heights in 1999 which followed victories on Mannerism (1992), Paris Lane (1994) and Doriemus (1995). Oliver rides Ace High
TRAINERS GOING BACK-TO-BACK In the past 25 years, no trainer has won successive Caulfield Cups. Lindsay Park trainers David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig won last year with Boom Time. They will be represented by Ventura Storm with Jaameh the second emergency
JOCKEYS WINNING SUCCESSIVE CAULFIELD CUPS Craig Williams won the race in 2011 on Southern Speed before winning again on Dunaden. Last year's winner Cory Parish rides Jaameh, currently second emergency and not in the field
MARES TO CLAIM THE CAULFIELD CUP The males hold an edge over the past 25 years with just four mares winning the race. Overall there have been 22 female winners with Jameka the last in 2016. Only one mare lines up on Saturday, Queensland Oaks winner Youngstar
AGE OF CAULFIELD CUP WINNERS If using the age of a horse to help find a Caulfield Cup winner, four-year-olds have the best record with 47 followed by five-year-olds (43) and six-year-olds (24)
INTERNATIONAL CONTINGENT The top three weighted horses - Best Solution, The Cliffsofmoher and Chestnut Coat - represent stables from England, Ireland and Japan with number four saddlecloth carried by New Zealand visitor Jon Snow for Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman. Number five is German-bred Sound Check for local trainer Mike Moroney while the first Australian-bred is Ace High for David Payne. A further three internationals - Duretto, Red Verdon and Sole Impact - contest the race
MOST SUCCESSFUL BARRIER Barriers seven and nine have recorded the highest number of wins with six winners each. Vengeur Masque and Red Verdon have drawn barriers seven and nine respectively, however if second emergency Jaameh (5) doesn't gain a start Ace High and Youngstar will start from seven and nine respectively. The least successful is barrier one, still looking for its maiden success, which doesn't bode well for English raider Duretto
MELBOURNE CUP FAVOURITE STRETCHES HIS LEGS
MELBOURNE Cup favourite Yucatan enjoyed a track run at Caulfield Cup on Saturday morning.
The $7.50 favourite for the $7.3 million Cup was a late scratching from the Caulfield Cup field with trainer Aidan O'Brien instead deciding a light track run would be more beneficial to his runner's Melbourne Cup preparation.
Owner Nick Williams told racing.com Yucatan showed no signs of struggling with the puffy joints that prompted O'Brien's decision to miss the Caulfield Cup.
"He wasn't put under any pressure today and that's when you find it out," Williams said.
"That's why Aidan didn't want to run him again today and put him under pressure again seven days after that tough run.
"I know he won easily but whichever way you look at it, he had a very tough run. He sat four-deep the trip and he knew he had that run so we did not want to put him under any pressure so we came here today and he strolled around a couple of laps and he looked good.
"He's come through it quite well. Obviously the physical signs are the puffy joints, but you wonder what it does to their minds."
Manikato Stakes favourite Kementari was also given a workout on The Valley track on Saturday morning.
Earlier, Racing Victoria stewards announced they are satisfied there was no untoward betting activity on Yucatan leading up to his scratching from the Caulfield Cup. The Irish stayer was favourite for Saturday's $5 million race on Monday morning following his impressive win in the Herbert Power Stakes.
On Monday night part owner Lloyd Williams advised Racing Victoria and various media outlets Yucatan would not be running.
In a statement stewards said analysis of Betfair data showed no abnormal price movements before media outlets tweeted news Yucatan was out of the race at 7.32pm on Monday.
The first time the price moved on Betfair was just under two minutes later, when his price went from $6.60 to $9.20, with amounts matched being minimal.