Fangirl working at The Valley (Image: Racing Photos)

Iconic cerise return to Cox Plate

There's something comfortingly familiar about the iconic cerise colours of the Ingham family racing around The Valley.

Almost like it's meant to be.

For a 10-year period in the 1990s and early 2000s, the cerise silks were a fixture in the Cox Plate as brothers Jack and Bob Ingham strived for victory in the weight-for-age championship of Australasia.

Only their mighty colt Octagonal was successful, landing the prize after a thrilling battle with Mahogony in 1995.

Others, like Lonhro, Commands and Viscount, couldn't stamp their greatness at the pressure-cooker that is The Valley's unique 2040-metre circuit.

But on Saturday, two decades after they last appeared in the race, the cerise colours will be carried in the Cox Plate by star mare Fangirl.

The three-time Group 1 winner is bred and raced by Bob Ingham's children, including Winx's part-owner Debbie Kepitis and John Ingham, who said they share a sense of pride in the colours returning to the great race.

"It's been 28 years since Octagonal won it 1995, so it's nice to see the colours running around again with a horse that's got a good chance," Ingham said.

"The Cox Plate has always been the pinnacle race in a lot of racing people's opinion and especially within our family.

"We've always had a special place for the Golden Slipper, being based in Sydney and we've had some good success in that over many years, but the Cox Plate is the pinnacle of Australian racing."

By Sebring, Fangirl is out of Stakes-winning Encosta De Lago mare Little Surfer Girl, who the Inghams bought as a yearling for $1.5 million.

While their breed-to-race operation pales in size in comparison to Woodlands Stud in its heyday, all siblings remain passionate about the sport and are intent on maintaining their family's strong links to some of the best races on the calendar.

"She's out of our mare Little Surfer Girl," he said.

"We get advice form Coolmore and others, but the family are still very much involved with the breeding and racing.

"My sisters Lynn and Debbie, my brother Robbie and myself make a lot of these decisions together on what stallions we're going to breed to.

"In simple terms, we've got a dozen broodmares and about 40 horses in the group.

"We pretty much keep most of the horses we breed to race.

"We love to keep the cerise colours running around."

Ingham said there has always been an expectation that Fangirl could scale racing's lofty heights, based on early feedback from trainer Chris Waller.

As a three-year-old, the filly won four Stakes races, culminating with a breakthrough success in the G1 Vinery Stud Stakes.

The following season, she was placed at the elite level behind Anamoe on three occasions and was also narrowly denied in the $10 million Golden Eagle.

But this season, as a five-year-old, Fangirl has stamped herself as one of the nation's premier milers via wins in the G1 Winx Stakes and G1 King Charles Stakes.

She tackles Saturday's Cox Plate as a $9 prospect with Sportsbet.

"Chris had some pretty good expectations of her right from when she started out," he said.

"She won a Listed race at her fourth start and won the Carbine Club down in Melbourne, so early on she was showing a lot of promise.

"She obviously won her first Group 1 at Newcastle in the Vinery Stud Stakes when the races were abandoned in Sydney because of the rain.

"Sadly for us she ran into Anamoe a few times."

The record of Woodlands Stud-owned horses in the Cox Plate:

Tenor - Unplaced in 1994

Octagonal - WON in 1995

Octagonal & Anthems - Unplaced in 1996

Dodge & Dracula - Unplaced in 1998

Commands - Unplaced in 1999

Viscount - 3RD in 2001

Lonhro - Unplaced in 2002

Lonhro - 3RD in 2003