|W.S. Cox Plate wins
For drama, the 1992 Cox Plate is unmatched.
It is simply one of the most talked-about races in 99 editions given what happened on the racetrack that day.
It was a vintage Cox Plate field with the likes of champions such as Let’s Elope, Better Loosen Up, Super Impose, Mannerism, Sydeston and Rough Habit taking part. Champions of their time, some entered the twilight of their careers, taking rising star Naturalism, who looked to have their measure as a $2 favourite.
What happened at the 600-metre mark of the race is still regaled today like it was only yesterday.
With 600 metres to go, the recent Caulfield Guineas winner in Palace Reign was up front before, for no apparent reason, he crossed his legs and fell heavily with jockey Peter Hutchinson dislodged. Most of the trailing field managed to avoid horse and rider, except red-hot favourite Naturalism who was travelling sweetly in the run and ready to make his move, and Sydeston. Both horses lost their riders in the incident and were out of the race. It was pure mayhem.
As racegoers were trying to digest what had just happened, there was more chaos to come in the closing stages as in the straight it was every man for themselves, with horses shifting in and out. Let’s Elope veered in and interfered with several runners including Better Loosen Up and Prince Salieri. Meanwhile, Greg Hall on Super Impose, who had been out the back watching the action unfold, sailed past his rivals to win at $17.
For trainer Lee Freedman it was a bittersweet moment. He has just won the Cox Plate, but he had concerns for his star galloper Naturalism, but after being told the four-year-old had suffered no serious injury, he was able to soak in the remarkable performance by his stable’s veteran in Super Impose. A “super athlete” was how Freedman described the winner, “he covered a lot of ground with each stride, and he had tremendous acceleration,” Freedman recalled.
An emotional Greg Hall, standing high in the saddle waving his whip, said as he came back to scale: “To win a Cox Plate is fantastic, but to win on a great old horse like Super… well… that is something else.”
Let’s Elope placed second, however not for long, with interference she caused in the straight to Better Loosen Up severe enough to push him back into fifth place when the protest was upheld.
The race was so good a Melbourne independent band Mr Floppy put out a song entitled the 1992 Cox Plate on one of its albums, with several commentators’ versions of the fall and then the finish spliced into a song. It was an experience to see them play live – fair to say it didn’t translate that well to the music punters.