Mon, Oct 29, 10:52am by Staff Writer
History was made on Saturday at Moonee Valley after Winx took out her fourth consecutive Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m), beating Kingston Town’s record of three-straight back in 1980-82. It was also her 29th win-in-a-row, her 22nd G1 and her prize money now sits just under the $23-million mark.
Jumping from barrier six in a field of eight, Hugh Bowman kept her out of trouble and within striking distance as stable mate D’Argento and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Rostropovich set a good tempo early on. At the 600m mark Bowman made his move with Godolphin’s Benbatl going with the mare for a few strides on the turn but class kicked in and in the end it was a fairly comfortable 2L victory over Benbatl, with Humidor a further 2¾L away in third.
Avilius ran on for fourth with trainer James Cummings happy with how his gelding handled his first attempt at Weight-for-Age but more importantly, how it kept him ticking along for the Melbourne Cup.
Ventura Storm looks to be on his way to the Melbourne Cup after taking out the G2 Moonee Valley Cup (2500m), just edging out Trap for Fools. The Hayes/Dabernig gelding was heavily supported to start second favourite and was one of only three horses under double figures. Trap for Fools – who was left out of the Cox Plate at the board’s discretion – fought on gamely to hang on for second with the Chris Waller pair of Libran and Who Shot Thebarman finishing third and fourth, the duo finishing one-two in this race last year but in the reverse order.
The Taj Mahal was sent out the solid favourite but faded in the run to finish midfield and his place in the Melbourne Cup is in doubt.
Cliff’s Edge was well backed in the Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m) and he got the money for his supporters holding on from a fast-finishing Prized Icon and Duca Valentinois while in race one, the punters were spot on with Espaaniyah taking out the Inglis Banner (1000m) for the Waterhouse/Bott team. The two-year-old filly cost $750,000 at the sales but her owners were quickly rewarded with a $300,000 prize money collect on Saturday.
Back on Friday night, the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) was the highlight race and it was the Darren Weir-trained Brave Smash just holding off the Aidan O’Brien-trained Spirit of Valor with Kementari and Spright flashing home to finish third and fourth.
That was Brave Smash’s fifth career win and second Group 1, and along with the Cox Plate gave Bowman a G1 double for the weekend – jockey Oisin Murphy finishing second in both. In the Manikato, Murphy copped a 15-meeting suspension for careless riding and will now miss the Melbourne Cup, his mount shifting in on Invincible Star and in-turn severely hampering an unlucky Houtzen who may not have won but would have finished much closer. On a night – and weekend – where front runners seemed to be advantaged, Kementari and Spright were terrific to get so close.
Up at Canterbury on Friday night, Brenton Avdulla had a memorable night notching up five winners and he followed that up with a win and four minors at Randwick on Saturday.
At a relatively low-key meeting at Randwick, Sky Boy – trained by Anthony and Edward Cummings – won race eight, a BM78 over 2000m in colours made famous by Dato Tan Chin Nam who passed away during the week. A man who put a lot into racing, he had much success with the Cummings name winning many races with Bart, including three Cox Plates on this equivalent day.
In race five, a BM94 over 1800m Aqua D’ivina kept progressing in the right direction in what was her fourth career win from seven starts, the four-year-old mare finishing second on those three other occasions. Trainer Matthew Smith and connections are now pondering a trip to Melbourne for the Flemington carnival which begins on Saturday.
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