Lys Gracieux has an international rating that is superior to her Cox Plate rivals. Picture: AAP
Lys Gracieux has an international rating that is superior to her Cox Plate rivals. Picture: AAP

Raider ‘a long way in front’ of Plate rivals

Cox Plate favourite Lys Gracieux brings a clearly superior international rating to the table than Caulfield Cup winning counterpart Mer De Glace, and is on a par with last year's runner-up Benbatl.

Racing Victoria's general manager of racing and chief handicapper Greg Carpenter said Lys Gracieux's form stacked up whichever way you measured it.

"Lys Gracieux is a world class performer. She has twice won at Group 1 level," he said.

"She won the Takarazuka Kinen (at her last start in June), which is one of Japan's best WFA races over 2200m."


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The daughter of Heart's Cry could give Damian Lane a third consecutive leg of Australia's big four, having won this year's Golden Slipper and Caulfield Cup and, on ratings, she's clearly the one to beat.

"She comes into the race with a rating of 119 internationally. She's a mare who's going to get 2kg weight relief for the sex allowance. She's the equivalent of a male at 123," Carpenter said.

"That puts her a long way in front of the males in the Cox Plate and, just by comparison, would put her on the same rating that Benbatl brought to the race last year.

"Avilius is one of our strongest chances from Australia, he's rated 119. So, in theory, she should be winning that race by about two lengths.

"But there's a lot of really good horses in the race, it's going to be one of the great renewals of the Cox Plate."

It's unlikely Carpenter will be too harsh on Mer De Glace when he announces a penalty on Monday.

Of the 11 horses to win the Cups double, Rising Fast (1954) is the only one to have won the Caulfield Cup at 55.5kg in the weights. All others started off a lower base than what Mer De Glace carried on Saturday.

Carpenter has long been mindful of the difficulty horses carrying 57kg or more face in a Melbourne Cup, and he notes the Flemington race presents a more difficult task than Caulfield, given the bigger number of internationals.

"As good as he (Mer De Glace) was, there is a serious challenge awaiting him in the Melbourne Cup," he said.

"The reality is the link between the Caulfield and Melbourne cups has changed in the last 15 years," he said.

"The last 12 Caulfield Cup winners to contest the Melbourne Cup, not one of them has run a place."

He said since Ethereal did the double, the best Caulfield Cup finish at Flemington was Elvstroem (4th), with Master O'Reilly, Fawkner and Best Solution the only others to finish top 10.

He does believe, however, the Caulfield Cup could be more significant in 2019, given the number of eye-catching and unlucky runs in the race.






The Cox Plate squeeze is going to make fascinating, and likely controversial, viewing over the next 48 hours as the Moonee Valley Racing Club faces its toughest decision in many years.

Queenslanders will never forget Cole Diesel's 1989 omission after he had won the Toorak and Caulfield Cup the two weeks prior.

Winx beat a capacity field of 14 in her maiden win in 2015, but her presence scared off rivals in subsequent years, with fields of 10, eight and eight.

Without her, many more want to run this year and the horse in the betting that faces the biggest challenge is Te Akau Shark.

Lys Gracieux, Danceteria and Kluger all received invitations, so they are safe, as you would expect Cape Of Good Hope, Harlem and Homesman to be, given they have won exempt races.

Avilius and Mystic Journey are the two highest-ranked locals and will go in, as will Aidan O'Brien's Magic Wand, who has four northern hemisphere Group 1 placings to her credit.

Given he won the Underwood and was the closest of seconds in the Ladbrokes (Caulfield) Stakes, Black Heart Bart will take his place as well if the $200,000 late entry fee is lodged.

That leaves the likes of Te Akau Shark, Kings Will Dream, Verry Elleegant, Castelvecchio, Mr Quickie, and Humidor chasing the final four spots.


Te Akau Shark, second to Kolding in the Epsom Handicap, will be unlucky to miss out on the Cox Plate. Picture: Getty Images
Te Akau Shark, second to Kolding in the Epsom Handicap, will be unlucky to miss out on the Cox Plate. Picture: Getty Images



The mood seemed likely Humidor and Te Akau Shark would be the ones that miss the boat.

Racing Victoria chief handicapper Greg Carpenter, who will be consulted by the MVRC before it decides on the field, outlined the challenge for Te Akau Shark on Radio TAB's Past The Post.

"He is a challenge, because not only has he not won a Group 1 race, but he hasn't raced beyond 1600m," Carpenter said.

"Winx won an Epsom and went on and won her first Cox Plate.

"Unfortunately Te Akau Shark wasn't suited at the weights in the Epsom … he had 4kg more than Kolding and was only narrowly beaten.

"He's got strong claims, he has a high international rating … but there are other horses in the field who have got Group 1 victories on the board, who have been proven weight-for-age performers at 2000m. There's a lot of horses putting their hand up (but) 20 doesn't go into 14."






Best Result: Cascadian, Randwick, Race 10: The big money was for Penske and Dealmaker, with the Godolphin chestnut the forgotten runner.

Worst Result: Miss Leonidas, Caulfield, Race 7: She wasn't favourite, but still landed some big bets.

Best Backed: Brutal, Randwick, Race 6: His narrow defeat cost punters plenty.




Vienna Power, Eagle Farm, Race 3: Tidy effort first up off the 12-month break.

Removal, Eagle Farm, Race 4: Returned as good as when he left. Likely keeps going through the grades.

Crafty Spirit, Eagle Farm, Race 6: Terrific return in Open grade.




Barefoot, Eagle Farm, Race 10: Money was there for her this time but she again failed to make any impression in the run home.




Go Dixie, Eagle Farm, Race 1: Bold betting move came unstuck when he was under pressure turning. Yet to prove himself in Saturday grade.



Punters were on the money with Zofonic Dancer at Eagle Farm. Picture: AAP
Punters were on the money with Zofonic Dancer at Eagle Farm. Picture: AAP




Punters were off the mark for much of the day at Eagle Farm, but Zofonic Dancer was well found in the Open mile at his $6.50 quote.






"I keep pinching myself to be associated with a great horse like him." - Pat Webster on his $7 million-earning nine-year-old Happy Clapper. Webster has flagged The Gong, a $1 million Quality Handicap over 1600m at Kembla on November 23 as a potential target. The Doomben Cup could also be on the radar.






The industry's response to claims of animal cruelty and wastage. From top to bottom there's been condemnation of what was seen and a desired commitment to making positive changes. Now the job is to implement the proposals as swiftly as possible.






Glen Boss is proving an ageless marvel. Wins the Doncaster earlier in the year, then the Epsom and now The Everest after being one of the last jockeys booked for the race. There has been few better when it comes to big race cool.





Cox Plate, Saturday

$3.60 Lys Gracieux

$7 Avilius

$8 Cape Of Good Hope, Mystic Journey

$10 Te Akau Shark

$12 Danceteria

$15 Black Heart Bart, Homesman, Magic Wand

$16 Verry Elleegant

$17 Castelvecchio, Kings Will Dream

$21 Humidor, Kluger

$31+ Others




Tuesday: Lismore, Muswellbrook, Hamilton

Wednesday: Doomben, Warwick Farm, Geelong, Strathalbyn, Ascot

Thursday: Ipswich, Hawkesbury, Ballarat, Geraldton

Friday: The Valley (night), Rockhampton, Sunshine Coast (night), Scone, Echuca, Gawler, Canberra, Launceston (night)

Saturday: Eagle Farm, Randwick, The Valley, Morphettville Parks, Ascot, Gold Coast, Toowoomba (night), Charleville, Clifton, Gladstone, Gympie, Isisford, Mount Isa, Kembla Grange, Yarra Valley, Darwin

Sunday: Townsville, Coonabarabran, Port Macquarie, Sale, Port Lincoln, Northam, Alice Springs