Sir Dragonet winning the 2020 Cox Plate (Image: Racing Photos)
Thirty-two Group 1 winners remain in contention for this year's Cox Plate after first declarations were taken on Tuesday.
Zaaki is one of the newest Cox Plate aspirants to join the G1 club after emphatically winning the Doomben Cup (2000m) in May and Annabel Neasham's European import remains among the 79 entries for the $5 million race.
Last year's Caulfield Cup winner Verry Elleegant is one of seven horses trained by Chris Waller paid up at the first acceptance stage.
Reigning Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet also featured in the first declarations, with Ciaron Maher and David Eustace also supplying first acceptors Gold Trip and Explosive Jack.
The overall number of first acceptors for the Cox Plate slumped to its lowest figure in the post-Winx era. Total first acceptances in the past two seasons has reached triple figures but this year dropped from last year's tally of 109.
Predictably, the number of overseas entries dropped significantly, with Joseph O'Brien's last-start G1 Saratoga Derby winner State Of Rest the lone overseas-trained first acceptor for the Cox Plate. The first acceptance stage had attracted 17 overseas entries the past two years.
Connections of Australian Guineas winners Alligator Blood and Mystic Journey plus Kiwi mare Avantage forfeited their nominations at the first acceptance stage.
Second acceptances for the Cox Plate will be taken at 12 noon (AEST) on Tuesday, 21 September.
Cox Plate market (Odds: Sportsbet)
$9 Verry Elleegant
$11 Gold Trip
$21 Converge, Probabeel, Think It Over
Click here to view the Cox Plate first acceptances.