Bettyrae Ruby (Image: Karl Kaldawi)
It's no easy task taking on wonder mare Winx, especially when her jockey Hugh Bowman jumped off her following Monday's Rosehill trial and declared she's going better than ever.
While it's no surprise to see a stack of local and international Group 1 winners chancing their arm with a nomination to tackle the mare in this year's Ladbrokes Cox Plate, there are also a few from left field.
Here are several speculative entries for The Valley's $5 million showpiece that you may not have seen coming...
Self Sense: He's proved himself a genuine star in his first season of jumping with three wins from four starts over obstacles, including dominant wins in the Australian Hurdle (3400m) and Kevin Lafferty Hurdle (3200m). But while his flat form in the past couple of seasons is handy, it's hard to see him getting anywhere near Winx should connections extend his campaign through to the spring, especially after a gut-buster in Sunday's Grand National Hurdle (4200m).
Miss Fabulass: Can she do what her mum came so close to doing? The daughter of 2008 Cox Plate placegetter Samantha Miss had her colours lowered in her only two-year-old start back in February but, if her recent trial is any indication, she's come back bigger and better as a three-year-old. The spruik on the daughter of Frankel is considerable and she'll need to live up to every bit of it to make it to a Cox Plate, let alone match motors with Winx.
Bettyrae Ruby: Tim Hughes has clearly got a big opinion of this five-year-old mare, who contested several Stakes races as a three-year-old. And while she can definitely gallop, her biggest scalp to date came in a Benchmark 70 Handicap over 1400m at Sale earlier this month. It's fair to say she'd want to improve a couple of lengths to measure up in town, let alone the nation's hottest weight-for-age race.
More Sundays: Does he have the pedigree to win a Cox Plate? Absolutely. This Lindsay Park colt is a son of Fastnet Rock out of the eight-time Group 1 winner More Joyous, who ran in two Cox Plates herself. And he could have the ability to match if his winning debut at Geelong on Monday is any guide. But it would require a herculean effort to get this raw youngster to a Cox Plate in his first racing preparation.
Silent Warrior: In the same month Winx claimed her third Cox Plate, Silent Warrior broke through in a Gawler maiden in what was his 13th attempt at winning a race. Since then, he's gone on in leaps and bounds and destroyed his rivals in April's Stawell Cup. Trainer Stuart Gower is allowed to dream, it's what makes Australian racing great. But his dreams are probably the only place this five-year-old will be fighting out the finish of a Cox Plate.
Tom Melbourne: How ironic would it be if Tom from Melbourne, racing's biggest tease, knocked off his superstar stablemate in a Cox Plate? He's had more minor placings than Winx has had hard feeds but he's obviously got a stack of ability. If he brings his A-game, he's probably a top-five chance at best but we're allowed to dream, aren't we? Winx staving off a Humidor-like challenge from Tom in front of 35,000 at The Valley...
Shamwow: An unraced daughter of Shamexpress that set connections back $300,000 at the yearling sales, the Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young-trained filly made her first public appearance at Monday's set of Cranbourne trials. She won under a hold in a trial that included Adelaide Magic Millions Classic winner Zizzis. No filly has won the Cox Plate since Surround in 1976, let alone one that was unraced in early August.