Danny O’Brien has confirmed the $5 million centenary Cox Plate is ruling favourite Russian Camelot’s primary spring goal while downplaying concerns over the fact the import has never raced at The Valley.
The SA Derby and Underwood Stakes winner worked over 1600m at The Valley last Saturday, building impressively over the last 600m under rider Damien Oliver.
O’Brien believes the gallop and the benefit of the familiarisation with The Valley’s quirky contours — has the TAB $4 favourite perfectly placed.
“He worked really well there on Saturday,” O’Brien said.
“He’s worked there probably half a dozen times over the last 12 months, last spring, and the autumn and then early this spring.
“So he’s been to The Valley a lot of times, even though he hasn’t raced there. He’s had more than enough trips there.
“He’s very fit now. He’s right where we have to have him.
“He’ll have one more gallop at Flemington on Tuesday morning and then straight into the race.”
With up to four internationals taking their place in the weight-for-age championship, O’Brien is confident the race tempo will be far stronger than the Caulfield Stakes, where he was outsprinted by Arcadia Queen.
“It looks like it’s gonna to have a good, strong, competitive field, which is what we would like,” O’Brien said.
“We want to see a bit more pressure on than what we had in the Caulfield Stakes and I’m sure that will happen with a big field.”
Asked if Russian Camelot was peaking at his fourth run this preparation, O’Brien said: “Absolutely. His No 1 goal has been the Cox Plate.
“He couldn’t be any better going into it and what happens after the race is what happens.
“This is his main goal for the whole spring.”
Russian Camelot is joint TAB $8 second favourite with Surprise Baby behind Tiger Moth for the Melbourne Cup.
CAPACITY FIELD LOOMING FOR CENTENARY COX PLATE
The $5 million centenary Cox Plate on Saturday is likely to feature a capacity field of 14 as connections of Buckhurst and Master Of Wine consider backing up from the Caulfield Cup.
Owner Lloyd Williams will chase Plate success with Buckhurst, who will be ridden by Jamie Kah at The Valley following his Caulfield Cup seventh for Ben Melham.
Master Of Wine, who finished 10th at Caulfield, could also head to The Valley for Team Hawkes but the stable is yet to make a decision.
If the German gelding backs up, the Moonee Valley Racing Club committee will likely have 15 horses from which to form a final field.
Final acceptances for the Cox Plate will be taken on Tuesday after gallops at the course.
“It’s likely we’ll have a field of 14 for the Ladbrokes WS Cox Plate, but we’ll know more on Tuesday,” MVRC chief executive Michael Browell said.
“There’s strong international representation through Armory, Magic Wand, Aspetar and Sir Dragonet.
“There’s also a quality group of local horses.”
Aidan O’Brien’s stable representative TJ Comerford is delighted at the progress of Armory and the 2019 Mackinnon Stakes winner Magic Wand.
The pair worked over 1500m on the grass at Werribee, impressing Comerford.
“They’re both good horses and they’re both in good condition,” he said.
“They’ll work again on Wednesday and we’re just hoping for nice gates for them.”
The possible Cox Plate field
MASTER OF WINE
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