Cox Plate to become a global drawcard
Cox Plate officials expect the weight-for-age championship to become an even more powerful magnet for international contenders after Lys Gracieux's victory.
Moonee Valley Racing Club chief executive Michael Browell said betting turnover in Japan, and the Plate's increased international profile, would ensure Japan and Europe remained strong factors heading towards the race's centenary next year.
Browell said Japanese punters outlaid an estimated equivalent of $5 million on the race as Lys Gracieux became Japan's first winner of the Plate on Saturday, five years after Ireland's success with Adelaide.
"It can't be underestimated what this means in terms of Lys Gracieux coming to Australia and winning the Ladbrokes Cox Plate," Browell said.
"She's the second-best mare in Japan behind Almond Eye. The race will rate very strongly internationally.
"This will intensify the interest in Japan around the race because of its quality.
"Some people thought the race would take a backward step after Winx's four wins.
It didn't. We saw a great winner, our second international following Adelaide in 2014."
Browell said the club was elated at the performances of runner-up Castelvecchio and third placegetter Te Akau Shark.
Both horses were discretionary inclusions following discussion at committee level.
"It's a new era for the race, and those horses are part of that era," Browell said.
"We're going to review all elements of the race, including bonus schemes.''
The club will consider a possible reduction in Australian races offering a "golden ticket" to the $5 million race, and look into the international $2 million bonus and invitational scheme.
The series includes the Australian Cup, ATC Derby, Caulfield Stakes, Caulfield Guineas and Feehan Stakes.
"We'll also look at the Ladbrokes Cox Plate international bonus of $2 million," he said.
"The international invitational scheme will also be reviewed."
There were four internationals in the final field of 14, with Lys Gracieux leading home Magic Wand (fourth), Kluger (13th, throat ulcer) and Danceteria (last, internal bleed).
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MELHAM TO APPEAL
Ben Melham was clearly aggrieved during a stewards' inquiry into his winning ride on Broadwayandfourth in the Listed Crockett Stakes that stretched throughout the Cox Plate meeting. Melham passionately argued his case, insisting he was a victim of circumstance because of a broken stirrup and incidental contact from other jockeys.
"Obviously this time of year nobody wants a holiday," Melham told chairman of stewards Robert Cram.
Melham pleaded not guilty and will appeal against the eight-meeting ban. His passion was evidence of what it means to be gainfully involved at the height of the carnival. But, as Cram indicated to fellow hoop Luke Nolen in a separate conversation - telling him to "take care out there" - the emphasis on safety means no jockey is above reproach.
TEN OUT OF 10
Damian Lane was rightly feted for his Cox Plate ride on Lys Gracieux. But what about the performances of Craig Williams on Castelvecchio and Opie Bosson on Te Akau Shark? In another race, against lesser opposition, they would have been winning steers. Both were 10-out-of-10 rides.
Former top apprentice Patrick Moloney made the most of his only opportunity at the Valley on Saturday when he scored on Fine Dane, trained by his uncle John, in the 955m handicap. It was Moloney's first ride in the city for the month. He said he was no longer stable rider for Mike Moroney. Moloney enjoyed a recent month-long stint in Singapore and hoped there could be more opportunities there.
THAT'S MY BOY
While Nash and Brad Rawiller are regularly prominent at Group 1 level, Nash's son Campbell is also making an impression. The 18-year-old recorded his first country cup win with victory on Surreal Image at St Arnaud on Saturday. His seventh win in a 51-ride career followed a double at Ballarat last Thursday on Chorus and Heka Express.
TIES THAT BIND
Racing romantics might have detected a glint in Wayne Hawkes' eye after Amangiri's stirring win in the Solution Stakes at the Valley on Saturday. Amangiri is raced by Hawkes' mother Jenny and sister-in-law Clare, wife of his brother Michael. The pink and green colours carried to victory belonged to Hawkes' maternal grandfather Frank Aldenhoven and were the same silks carried by King Of Shadows, who was John Hawkes' first winner as a jockey-trainer.
Victoria Derby day towers over the Australian racing landscape with four Group 1s.
In a week that features Wednesday's $400,000 Group 3 Bendigo Cup, Benalla, Swan Hill, Seymour, Tatura, the Valley, Wycheproof, Mortlake, Traralgon and Healesville (picnic) all have their moments in the sun.
But Headquarters stands as a beacon with its famous quartet - Victoria Derby, Cantala Stakes, Coolmore Stud Stakes and Empire Rose Stakes.