I was meant to ride him at Caulfield earlier in the month, but he switched races and I couldn’t do the weight. So he was ridden by someone else when he finished 13th of 18 in that handicap, and this is clearly a tougher assignment for him. But he actually shaped a lot better than the bare result suggests there – he just didn’t get a run after being slowly away – and a reproduction of his Diomed Stakes third to Zaaki in the summer would give him some sort of place chance.
I was gutted when he was a late scratch from the Group 1 at Caulfield won by Cape Of Good Hope earlier in the month – I basically flew down to ride him – but hopefully he is over that hiccup and this is a horse who I have a lot of time for. And basically what I said a fortnight ago stands. I think he needed it when he was third in the Brigadier Gerard back in May and his season has been one of progression since, and he notched up his Group 1 when winning in Germany for me last time. He has a potent turn of foot when on song, and you have to be hopeful given his form trajectory. This Cox Plate is quite clearly a very tough race and he will need luck from his midfield berth in 10, but I’d be quite pretty confident he will give this a fair go with a clear passage. I see he is as big as 18-1 back in England, and I think that under-estimates his chances. Coming back to his Sandown run earlier in the season, it is like riding two different horses at that track and away from there. When he went back to Sandown for the Eclipse, he must have changed his legs about five or six times up the straight and the ridges and undulations just don’t seem to suit him there. I reckon he is even better than he has been able to show, and I definitely think he would have been a factor, and placed, in something like the Juddmonte. I said before Caulfield how much I rate him, and nothing has changed. But you can see why the Japanese mare Lys Gracieux is favourite – she has 7lb in hand of this field from what I can see – and what a good race this always is. There is some rain about judging from the last forecast I saw, and hopefully that wouldn’t be any problem for him after what he did in Germany last time.