Trainer David Hayes said he could not 'wish for more things to be right' with Elegant Fashion after she fared beautifully yesterday in the barrier draw for Saturday's W.S. Cox Plate in Melbourne.
Jockey Gerald Mosse stood up on behalf of connections at the celebrity draw and was a relieved man when gate five came up. Mosse surprised the crowd at the function when he said he did not know the opposition in the Cox Plate and would not be doing any homework to find out.
'I ride the horses and my trainer, David Hayes, prefers that I do not study form and speed maps and that sort of thing,' Mosse said. 'Where I ride her will depend on the speed in the race. If they go slow, she will race a bit closer, in the first five. But if there is a stronger gallop, I'd say she would be back about midfield.'
Hayes was thrilled with the starting position: 'It should work out ideal from five - I close my eyes and just see her getting a perfect run, somewhere just behind the leaders with a nice trail one horse off the fence. She has Regal Roller, the likely leader, underneath her as well as couple which will steady back. She has Elvstroem and Fields Of Omagh outside her and they are ridden positively. And right on the outside are Our Egyptian Raine and Miss Potential, who will have to go forward. Win, lose or draw, you couldn't ask for more things to be right going into a race of this magnitude.'
Glen Boss and Garry Newham, jockey and trainer respectively of the favourite, Starcraft, were both delighted with gate one and scoffed at the suggestion that the rails barrier could represent potential trouble for the big chestnut. 'Not a worry at all,' Boss said bullishly. 'There looks like being a strong pace and we can just take our time, getting a soft run all the way.'
The fact that the AJC Australian Derby winner has been beaten in his past two starts in New Zealand and Melbourne has resulted in a division of opinion over Starcraft, but there was no question as to what side of the fence Newham stands on: 'This is the race he's been set for all along,' he said.
Ian Rimmington, representing Elvstroem's trainer, Tony Vasil, said he had no qualms about the Caulfield Cup winner starting from barrier eight: 'I can't see that being a problem. He doesn't have to lead, though he did in the Caulfield Cup. He can just sit off the leaders Miss Potential and Regal Roller.'
Cox Plate betting: $3.40 Starcraft, $4.50 Grand Armee, Elstroem, $9.00 Elegant Fashion, $14.00 Fields of Omagh, Savabeel, $21.00 King's Chapel, $41.00 Paolini, Delzao, $81.00 Natural Blitz, $26.00 Our Egyptian Raine, $81.00 Natural Blitz, $201 Miss Potential. Draw: 1 Grand Armee (draw 3), Gai Waterhouse (trainer), Damien Oliver (jockey), (128 lb); 2 Paolini (Germany, draw 11) Andreas Wohler, Eduardo Pedroza (128 lb); 3 Regal Roller (draw 4), Clinton McDonald, Mark Flaherty (128 lb); 4 Fields Of Omagh (draw 7), Tony McEvoy, Danny Nikolic (128 lb); 5 Natural Blitz (draw 2), Doug Harrison, Stephen Baster (128 lb); 6 Elvstroem (draw 8), Tony Vasil, Nash Rawiller, (125 lb); 7 Starcraft (New Zealand, draw 1), Garry Newham, Glen Boss, (125 lb); 8 King's Chapel (draw 9), Mark Walker, Darren Beadman (125 lb); 9 Delzao (draw 10), Greg Kavanagh, Steven King (125 lb); 10 Elegant Fashion (Hong Kong, draw 5), David Hayes, Gerald Mosse (122 lb); 11 Our Egyptian Raine (New Zealand, draw 12), Grahame Begg, Corey Brown (122 lb); 12 Miss Potential (draw 13), Bill Borrie, Reese Jones (122 lb); 13 Savabeel (draw 6), Graeme Rogerson Chris Munce (107 lb).