The 101st edition of the Ladbrokes Cox Plate lived up to the hype on Saturday as Joseph O’Brien’s Irish stayer State of Rest caused an upset in the small field of eight at The Valley.
The four-year-old by Starspangledbanner got the split rounding the final turn under John Allen, but the finish wasn’t without drama after the pair collided with Anamoe just out from the line.
A protest was lodged immediately by Godolphin and Craig Williams, who argued Allen and State of Rest shifted inwards and made contact before winning by a short head.
The rear camera angle showed clear interference, but after a nerve-racking half hour wait, the protest was eventually dismissed by the stewards, awarding Allen his first Australian major.
“I knew across the line I gave him a bit of a bump so I couldn’t even celebrate, but thank god we got the win,” Allen told Racing.com.
Williams, a two-time Cox Plate winner, clearly had a case in the stewards’ room, but it was ruled Anamoe had enough time to fight back after the bump.
“Craig’s always a good talker. The longer it was going there was definitely a few anxious moments, but I think the right decision was made,” Allen went on to say.
State of Rest went around as a $7.00 chance in the Ladbrokes market in what was his first run in Australia since journeying over from Ireland.
The talented stayer had been kept fresh following his Group 1 Derby Invitational win back in August and had to be respected give Joseph O’Brien’s reputation with internationals.
“The race panned out pretty well. When the gap appeared, I had to ask him to improve quick before it closed and we might have gotten there a little too soon, but to his credit when that horse got to him he really fought and was solid through the line,” Allen said when asked on the run.
With previous race favourite Zaaki scratched the morning of, tactics, as well as the market, changed considerably.
Captivant set the pace up front with Dalasan on his outside, while the Annabel Neasham-trained Mo’unga stalked the speed in fourth alongside Probabeel.
The pace quickened with 600m to go as Verry Elleegant got going out wide, not long before Mo’unga followed suit rounding the turn.
Chris Waller’s nine-time Group 1 winner found clear running room but was too far off State of Rest and Anamoe, instead settling for third.
The complete 2021 Ladbrokes Cox Plate finishing order can be viewed here.