The Cox Plate is one of the jewels of the Melbourne Spring Carnival, the Group 1 race taking place at Moonee Valley Racecourse every October.
The 2040m race is regarded as the weight-for-age championship race in Australia as it pitches three-year-olds with their more experienced counterparts during the early part of the season. That is the reason it is known as “the race where legends are made” and why it is one of the most sought-after prizes in global horse racing.
With more than $3 million on offer, it is the most for any weight-for-age race. The prize money makes it the second richest race in Australian racing behind the Melbourne Cup
From more than 200 nominations each year, a full field of 14 runners (plus 4 emergencies) will contest the race. Hard luck stories are commonplace around the tight turning Moonee Valley Racecourse which prevents a bigger number of horses doing battle.
The W.S. Cox Plate, to give it its full race title, is named in honour of William Samuel Cox, the founder of the Moonee Valley Racing Club back in 1883. It was first held in 1922 when won by Tangalooma.
It is positioned as the middle leg of the big three races of the Spring Carnival with the Cox Plate coming after the Caulfield Cup
and before the Melbourne Cup
The winner of the Cox Plate is guaranteed a place in the field of the Melbourne Cup at Flemington courtesy of being excused from balloting system.
Such is the quality of the race, it has been the breeding ground of champions on both sides of the Tasman in Australia and New Zealand. The roll of honour of the Cox Plate reads like a who's who of horse racing. The legend Kingston Town won the race three times between 1980-1982, and remains the only horse to land the hat-trick in their career.
Only one horse in history has achieved the holy grail during the Spring Carnival
and won the Cox Plate as well as the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup in the same season. Rising Fast achieved the feat in 1954 and it has yet to be emulated since.
The Cox Plate-Melbourne Cup double has proven only slightly less elusive with only six horses following victory in the Moonee Valley showpiece by taking out the Melbourne Cup a matter of days late. The sextet were Nightmarch (1929), Phar Lap (1930), Rising Fast (1954), Saintly (1996), Might And Power (1998 - in what remains a course record time) and three-time Flemington winner Makybe Diva (2005). Three of those won the Cox Plate the year after triumphing in the Melbourne Cup - Phar Lap, Might and Power and Makybe Diva (2005).
The Cox Plate is one of the biggest betting heats of the entire Spring Carnival with bookmakers such as Crownbet
offering all-in markets more than six or eight months ahead of the race. The Cox Plate is also a popular betting double with the Melbourne Cup and finding both winners can leave you well on the way to the rich list.