Royal Descent, Wandjina & Cox Plate history
As if to echo their historic Australian Sires’ Premiership quinella, Redoute’s Choice and his son Snitzel each has a runner in Saturday’s $3 million MVRC W.S. Cox Plate G1.
Redoute’s Choice is represented by Gerry Harvey’s magnificent home-bred mare, Royal Descent (ex Mulan Princess by Kaapstad), four times Group 1-placed over 1600 metres in Sydney since her 2013 Australian Oaks G1 victory. She has ventured to Melbourne for only two previous starts, both of them last Spring when she was unplaced in Happy Trails’ Turnbull S. G1, and a gallant fifth in Fawkner’s Caulfield Cup G1.
Trained by Chris Waller, her form this season could hardly be better, or more frustrating: four runner-up finishes at Randwick, mostly recently beaten a very skinny nose by her stablemate He’s Your Man in the Epsom H. G1.
That performance earned Royal Descent a Timeform figure of 125, though with a ?, indicating some doubt about its accuracy. Only Sacred Falls (127) goes into this year’s Cox Plate with a higher figure.
Gary Crispe at Racing & Sports, who compiles the Timeform ratings, explains, “In the case of Royal Descent she has a well-defined Timeform ratings profile of 121 established over several runs. This campaign her form has been faultless and her ratings have gone 112, 118, 119 and 125.
“We seldom see a jump like this at this level in older horses but having said that, being a quality mare, it is possible she has improved beyond her previous 121 master figure. We have cautioned the run because at WFA it makes her the one to beat with the 2kg allowance mares receive.”
Royal Descent and Lankan Rupee, favourite for the Manikato Stakes on Friday evening, give Redoute’s Choice a chance to achieve an unprecedented double, by siring the winners of both races with two different horses in the same year. Sunline (2000), Rubiton (1987) and Strawberry Road (1983) have won both races in the same year, a feat no longer possible because they are now held on consecutive days.
Snitzel, the sire of last year’s sensational winner Shamus Award, has the Gai Waterhouse-trained Arrowfield graduate Wandjina (ex La Bamba by Last Tycoon) in the field after his owners Edmund & Belinda Bateman paid the $130,000 late entry fee and he received the nod from the MVRC committee.
Wandjina’s last-start third in the Caulfield Guineas G1 earned him a Timeform figure of 121, again with a modifying ?. The other two Australian 3YO colts in the field, Almalad and Sweynesse, are rated 119 and 116 respectively.
Gary Crispe says, “In the case of Wandjina his established Timeform ratings profile is around 105. He has five ratings around that mark, so when he suddenly jumps to 121 at 100/1, alarm bells ring for us. Hence the ? as we are not at all sure about him being at that level just yet.”
In the TAB Fixed Odds betting for the Cox Plate Fawkner is now a clear favourite ahead of Northern Hemisphere 3YO Adelaide (considered a 4YO in Australia), Sacred Falls and Criterion, with the rest of the field at double-figure odds, including Royal Descent ($11) and Wandjina ($41).
A review of Cox Plate results achieved by 3YO colts and fillies & mares over the past decade casts light on their chances in this year’s race.
Eleven 3YO colts have started in the Cox Plate from 2004 to 2013 and three have won: Shamus Award (2014), So You Think (2009) and Savabeel (2004). Another three colts have placed in the Cox Plate: Manhattan Rain (2nd in 2009) and All Too Hard & Pierro who filled the placings behind Ocean Park in 2012.
Of those six 3YO male Cox Plate winners and placegetters, four brought a top three Caulfield Guineas finish into the Cox Plate. All Too Hard won the Guineas, while Pierro was second and, like Wandjina, Shamus Award & Manhattan Rain were third.
So You Think was fifth in the 2009 Guineas behind Starspangledbanner, Carrara, Manhattan Rain and Extra Zero. Savabeel had not started in Melbourne before the Cox Plate and came into the race off a Spring Champion S. G1 win.
A total of three wins and three placings from 11 starters gives an excellent 2004-13 Cox Plate top-three strike rate of 54.5% for 3YO colts.
Incidentally, the only two 3YO fillies that have run in the Cox Plate over the last ten years are both by Redoute’s Choice: Samantha Miss (3rd, 2008) and Miss Finland (6th, 2006) – she also ran as a 4YO in El Segundo’s 2007 Cox Plate, finishing fourth.
In all, twenty-one fillies and mares have started a total of 24 times in the Cox Plate since 2004. (Avienus, Miss Finland & More Joyous each started twice.)
Makybe Diva (2005) and Pinker Pinker (2011) have won the race during that period, while Samantha Miss and a third daughter of Redoute’s Choice, Lotteria (2nd, 2005) have both placed. One other Redoute’s Choice mare, King’s Rose, finished 7th as a 4YO in the 2011 Cox Plate.
A total of two wins and two placings from 24 starts gives a strike rate of 16.7% for fillies and mares in the Cox Plate.
What can be concluded from this examination of recent Cox Plate history? With rose-coloured spectacles firmly in place, and one eye slightly closed, the obvious bets are surely the 3YO colt with Caulfield Guineas form, and the mare by Redoute’s Choice!