The race to secure the historic 100th Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) remains alive for the connections of 109 horses who feature among the first acceptances for the weight-for-age championship of Australasia which were taken today.
The figure, which includes 37 Group 1 winners, represents the second highest number of first acceptors in the past decade with the lion’s share of a $5 million purse and a one-off gold Cox Plate trophy on offer for the winner at The Valley on Saturday afternoon, 24 October.
There were 102 horses that remained at the same point 12 months ago – up from 63 in 2018 when champion mare Winx was chasing and ultimately secured her memorable fourth straight Cox Plate.
There were 110 first acceptors back in 2014 – the year in which Northern Hemisphere three-year-old Adelaide delivered a maiden Cox Plate to Irishman Aidan O’Brien.
O’Brien has 12 of today’s 17 internationally-trained first acceptors – the same total as 2019 – including established stars Japan, Magical, Circus Maximus and Magic Wand and eight of the 11 Northern Hemisphere three-year-olds that remain.
O’Brien’s son Joseph has accepted with three horses headlined by the Lloyd Williams-owned Buckhurst, whilst Willie Mullins (True Self) and Roger Charlton have one piece, with the latter’s Group 1-winning Aspetar a likely starter.
Nominal Cox Plate favourites Russian Camelot and Verry Elleegant feature among the first acceptances, as does the former Aidan O’Brien-trained Sir Dragonet who arrives in Australia on 2 October to join the Ciaron Maher and Dave Eustace stable.
Other notable first acceptors include Melbourne Cup hero Vow And Declare, Arcadia Queen, Behemoth, Surprise Baby and last weekend’s Feehan Stakes winner Humidor who is guaranteed a shot at a third Cox Plate placing.
A total of 22 Southern Hemisphere three-year-olds feature among the first acceptors including Alcyone, Farnan, Flying Award, King’s Legacy, North Pacific and Tagaloa.
The most notable older withdrawals were The All-Star Mile winners Mystic Journey and Regal Power after below par performances and setbacks in the past month, Australian Cup winner Fifty Stars who has encountered a delayed campaign and Australian Guineas winner Alligator Blood who is targeting shorter races this spring.
Second acceptances for the Cox Plate will be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 22 September.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE COX PLATE FIRST ACCEPTANCES