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The Cox Plate – A Rich History
If you’re in any doubt about Australians’ love of horse racing, just look at the history of the Group 1 WS Cox Plate.
The “Race of the Century” in 1986 featured a titanic neck-and-neck battle between two chestnuts who danced to “equine immortality.” For the last 800 meters Bonecrusher and Our Waverley Star battled for the Cox Plate, with Bonecrusher prevailing by a neck. It’s a story that Australian punters retell over and over because it contains all the elements that make horse racing so fascinating.
The Cox Plate race is a weight race over 2040 meters and was named after William Samuel Cox who founded the Moonee Valley Racing Club. The first race took place in 1922 and with a purse worth 1000 pounds.
Today, the race is worth more than $3.1 million, including $1.8 million to the winner. The only other Australian race with more prizes is the Melbourne Cup. The race is a Group 1 thoroughbred race for horses 3 years of age or older. The time it takes to run the race is often called “the greatest two minutes in sports.”
A race of memories
The Cox Plate sits right between the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, our two famous standing handicap races. This gives him a special place in the annals of racing and weight-for-age status means the best horse must win. Over the past 9 decades, the Cox Plate has given the racing world many thrills and memories.
The first horse to win the Cox Plate was Violoncello who was from Great Britain. Other winners of our great race have been bred in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. Australia’s most famous horse Phar Lap won the 1930 and 1931 Cox Plates. And who can forget the great Kingston Town’s victories in 1980, 1981 and 1982.
Rising Fast won the 1954 Cox Plate and went on to become the only horse to win the Caulfield Cup, Melbourne Cup and Cox Plate in the same year. The New Zealand horse Tulloch set a new racing record in 1960 and was compared in some quarters to the great Phar Lap. The current race record is held by Might and Power and was set in 1998 when the horse won in 2 minutes 3.54 seconds. Dulcify (1979) and Sunline (1999) share the largest winning margin of 7 lengths.
Global and proud
Since 1999, the Cox Plate has been part of the World Series of Horse Racing and this has added even more prestige and global importance. The 12-race World Series includes races that take place on four continents.
The Cox Plate is a major horse race held annually in Melbourne’s Moonee Valley. And every year punters watch to see if equine immortality will be claimed by Australia’s new weight-for-age champion.
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