|W.S. Cox Plate wins
Irish Master Trainer Aidan O'Brien has achieved nearly everything in racing from his home base at Ballydoyle in Tipperary, Ireland, and so a Cox Plate victory was another achievement he was keen to add to his already burgeoning CV.
His first runner in 2014 in Adelaide was the perfect horse to target the race, and so again he was proven correct, becoming the first international trainer to win the race and exploding the W.S. Cox Plate on the world stage. It was a perfect result for trainer and race club given the three-year-old northern hemisphere colt had achieved so much already in his short career and had now added the weight-for-age championship to his Group 1 win in the US.
It was the race itself that many remember as much as the winner. Eight horses across the track at the winning post, with just two lengths between them as each, strived for glory. Gun international hoop Ryan Moore, having his first ride at the famed Valley racetrack, was the widest runner down the short Valley straight and it has been a tough run for the three-year-old who was wide the entire trip given Moore's inability to find cover. It didn't phase horse or rider as Adelaide looped the field and left the local contingent in his wake.
The wide run wasn't all of Moore's doing, with the import consigned to the 'visitor's barrier' when he drew 13 on the morning of the Breakfast with the Best. On his outside was cult-horse The Cleaner in barrier 14, who was a tearaway leader from Tasmania, with some of his toughest competition in Criterion in barrier four and Fawkner in barrier six drawing perfectly.
O'Brien wasn't there to share the moment, but he did call Moore before the race. He inquired about the weather, and the track rating, and then told his jockey, "Have a good day and enjoy yourself."
That it was an Irish horse that broke the Cox Plate's international 'duck' was, in a way, symbolic, for it was another horse from that country, Vintage Crop, trained by the maestro Dermot Weld, which heralded the beginning of a whole new global era in the rich history of Melbourne's spring carnival. Despite a few international challengers targeting the race over the years, with Godolphin's classy weight-for-age performer Grandera fairing best with a third behind Northerly in 2002, it wasn't until 2014 that there was a serious contingent of runners including Adelaide, Side Glance and Guest of Honor.
Adelaide, despite his Irish roots, confused many given the son of Galileo was named after the city of churches in South Australia. Sue Magnier, the daughter of legendary Irish trainer Vincent O'Brien (no relation to Aidan), who names most of the Coolmore thoroughbreds, once spent some time living in the South Australian capital, and the rest is history.
Adelaide now stands at Coolmore Stud in New South Wales, with daughter Funstar a Group 1 winner in the Darley Flight Stakes.