BRENT Thomson is still back on track to win his fifth Cox Plate now that brilliant Hong Kong-owned import, Our Tristalight, has recovered from a hoof injury. Thomson was almost left without a Caulfield Cup ride when Runyon was scratched but has been snapped up by Bart Cummings to ride Allan Lam's highly-fancied and mare Our Tristalight. While Runyon is on the improve, a cloud hangs over the immediate future of crack New Zealander and dual Horse of the Year, Veandercross. Veandercross failed badly in the Caulfield Stakes last Saturday but subsequent veterinary checks have revealed an injured back and slight leg problem. The gelding will miss at least a week's work but trainer John Wheeler expects to have him back on track for the Cox Plate. Wheeler is conscious that another failure in the Cox Plate could jeopardise any chance Veandercross has representing Oceania in the Japan Cup on November 28. Until recently his selection as one of two horses from this region was considered a formality. But the sudden return to form of Naturalism to win the Caulfield Stakes in brilliant style has that horse almost certain to get a trip back to Japan where last year he finished the gamest of seconds. Naturalism only has to performed well in the Cox Plate to be on his way to Japan. Trainer Freedman is delighted to have the horse back at his top after a few frustrating weeks. Freedman didn't panic when Naturalism was racing below form instead set about replenishing the five-year-old's zest for racing. One of his tricks was to school Naturalism over hurdles on the eve of the Caulfield Stakes. ''It certainly did the trick. He really loved it although he isn't much of a jumper. His eyes were popping out of his head,'' Freedman said. Freedman uses the jumping ploy regularly, especially to liven up stayers on the eve of big assignments. Top jockey Damien Oliver returned to the saddle on Naturalism after being banished from the horse 18 months ago. ''I was only 19 when I was sacked from him last time after he was beaten in the Victoria Derby. At the time I don't think I was ready for a horse Naturalism. Now I am,'' he declared. New Zealand four-year-old The Phantom Chance ran a terrific third in the Caulfield Stakes just ahead of his brother The Phantom. The Phantom Chance now looks the chief danger in the Cox Plate and could be heading to share a box with Naturalism to Japan. SINGAPORE-owned galloper Golden Sword has emerged as the rising star of Australian racing following two brilliant Group One handicap wins in the last three weeks. Golden Sword, trained by John Meagher at Flemington, gave a ''Super Impose'' type performance to win the A$400,000 Group One Epsom Handicap (1,600 metres) at Randwick, then a week later demolished a top class field to win the A$200,000 Group One Toorak Handicap (1,600 metres) at Caulfield. Golden Sword, a powerfully built and flashy chestnut from the first crop of Kaapstad, is owned by Singapore Turf Club committeeman Young Nam Seng in partnership with Datin Dora Sung and Tan Gek Charm. Meagher has now given Golden Sword his toughest assignment - next Saturday's A$1.7 million W. S. Cox Plate (WFA 2,040 metres) at Moonee Valley. While conceding Golden Sword is untried at weight-for-age, Meagher has no doubts this four-year-old is the most exciting horse he has trained. Golden Sword, who like Lee Freedman with Super Impose, has been patiently prepared by Meagher but this patience is being rewarded. Noted expert Les Carlyon claimed after watching Golden Sword win both the Epsom and Toorak, that: ''This could be one of the best horses I have seen.'' In the Epsom, the chestnut sat four and five wide, then unleashed a scintillating burst from the rear to win running away, while in the Toorak he also raced wide but was handy to the leaders on the turn. Once jockey Steven King allowed him full rein, he quickly gathered in his rivals to win easily from the highly regarded Group One winners Never Undercharge and Azzurro. STAR European stayers Drum Taps and Vintage Crop have arrived in Melbourne for their history attempt to win the Melbourne Cup on November 2. The pair have settled in well in their quarantine surroundings at Sandow Park racecourse amid much conjecture as to their chances of winning the Cup on a hit-and-run type preparation. The Cups King Bart Cummings and Prince Lee Freedman have both publicly said the visitors can't do it. Time will tell.