The field of 12 is confirmed and the all-important barrier draw conducted for Saturday’s Group 1 $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m).

2023 Underwood Stakes winner Alligator Blood

Alligator Blood was first horse to draw in the 2023 Cox Plate barriers with gate five. Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos.

The Valley will come alight this weekend for the coveted Cox Plate Carnival headlined by a dozen of the world’s premiere weight-for-age gallopers facing off in the Cox Plate field on Saturday.

Heading Cox Plate betting at race sponsor Ladbrokes is Sha Tin hero Romantic Warrior with the Hong Kong raider drawn ideally in barrier seven.

The Danny Shum-trained visitor debuted down under getting a look at the left-handed way of racing at Flemington when finishing a solid fourth in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m).

James McDonald, who won last year’s Cox Plate aboard Anamoe, continues associations on Saturday looking to salute aboard the 10-time winner for the punters.

Second elect at current Cox Plate odds of $6 is the brilliant Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained Alligator Blood who was first to draw with connections opting for gate five.

The seven-year-old son of All Too Hard is in flying form this spring winning the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) before shushing the naysayers who queried is ability over further with a stunning two-length victory in the Group 1 Might And Power (2000m) on October 14.

Tim Clark retains the ride.

There have been three international Cox Plate winners in the past nine years and along with this year’s favourite the other raider in the mix this spring is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Victoria Road.

O’Brien won the Cox Plate back in 2014 with Adelaide and is back in 2023 saddling-up a livewire chance from a favourable barrier six draw.

In-form hoop Blake Shinn partners the Saxon Warrior entire from the barrier that has produced three of the past five Cox Plate winners.

Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller has a historic association with the Cox Plate famously winning the event four times on the trot with the mighty mare Winx (2015-18).

Waller saddles-up two of the 12 Cox Plate horses in 2023 with three-time Group 1 winning three-year-old Militarize from gate three and his last start Group 1 $5 million King Charles III Stakes (1600m) winning mare Fangirl from wider out in nine.

Along with Militarize the other three-year-old contender in on the light weight looking to beat home the older horses is the Ciaron Maher & David Eustace-trained King Colorado.

Michael Dee partners the Kingman colt from barrier 10 with the winter’s JJ Atkins winning youngster last seen running fourth in the Caulfield Guineas.

The powerhouse Maher/Eustace stable also saddle-up Gold Trip who is on the quick back-up off a gallant third to Without A Fight in last Saturday’s Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).

After opting to ride Without A Fight in the Caulfield Cup, jockey Mark Zahra comes back aboard Gold Trip on Saturday with the horse having run second in last year’s Caufield Cup before a Cox Plate ninth.

He of course went on to win the Melbourne Cup over the two miles at Flemington and is again on track for the ‘race that stops a nation’ this year.

Trainer Annabel Neasham also saddles-up two chances with nine-year-old veteran Zaaki looking to become the first Cox Plate winner in history to jump from barrier 12, while his in-form stablemate My Oberon fared better with gate four.

Beaten favourite by a big margin in Sydney’s King Charles III Stakes last time out was the Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Mr Brightside who is looking for atonement returning to his pet track at Moonee Valley on Saturday.

The six-year-old son of Bullbars is drawn well in gate two for jockey Craig Williams who is well-versed in the Cox Plate having won aboard Fields Of Omagh (2006) and Pinker Pinker (2011).

Edward Cummings’ multiple Group 1 winning mare Duais looking back to her best and the Enver Jusufovic-trained roughie Pinstriped complete the Cox Plate field.

2023 Cox Plate Field & Barriers

No Last 10 Horse Trainer Jockey Barrier Weight Probable Weight Penalty Hcp Rating
1 x1122x12x4 ROMANTIC WARRIOR (IRE) Danny Shum James McDonald 7 59kg 124
2 341x217x32 ZAAKI (GB) Annabel Neasham Damian Lane 12 59kg 118
3 x5211x1112 MR BRIGHTSIDE (NZ) Ben, Will & JD Hayes Craig Williams 2 59kg 119
4 1x140x4211 ALLIGATOR BLOOD Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott Tim Clark 5 59kg 119
5 1x2570x413 GOLD TRIP (FR) Ciaron Maher & David Eustace Mark Zahra 8 59kg 121
6 x6026x6473 MY OBERON (IRE) Annabel Neasham Jamie Mott 4 59kg 115
7 534113×215 PINSTRIPED Enver Jusufovic Ben Allen 11 59kg 113
8 2x3227x131 FANGIRL Chris Waller Zac Purton 9 57kg 116
9 80x43x7933 DUAIS Edward Cummings Damien Oliver 1 57kg 112
10 2241111×73 VICTORIA ROAD (IRE) Aidan O’Brien Blake Shinn 6 56.5kg 115
11 13011×515 MILITARIZE (NZ) Chris Waller Zac Lloyd (a) 3 49.5kg 117
12 411×974 KING COLORADO Ciaron Maher & David Eustace Michael Dee 10 49.5kg 112

Table Credit: Racing Australia.




About The Author

Lucy Henderson

Lucy is an experienced horse racing journalist that has been a crucial member of the team for the better part of a decade. She has taken great delight in covering champion mares Black Caviar and Winx throughout their careers and always has a soft spot for a winning filly.