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The Cox Plate – A Rich History

If you have any doubts about Australians’ love of horse racing, just look at the history of Group 1 WS Cox Plate.

The “Race of the Century” in 1986 featured a titanic neck-and-neck battle between two chestnut geldings racing towards “equine immortality”. For the final 800 yards, Bonecrusher and Our Waverley Star battled for the Cox Plate, with Bonecrusher winning by a neck. It’s a story Australian bettors tell over and over again, because it contains all the elements that make horse racing so exciting.

The Cox Plate race is a weight-for-age race over 2,040 meters and is named after William Samuel Cox who founded the Moonee Valley Racing Club. The first race was held in 1922 and with a purse worth £1,000.

Today the race is worth more than 3.1 million dollars, including 1.8 million dollars for the winner. The only other Australian race with more prize money 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 referred to as “the biggest two minutes in sports”.

A race of memories

The Cox Plate is nestled just between the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, our two famous remaining handicap races. This gives him a special place in the annals of racing and his weight-for-age status means the best horse should win. Over the past 9 decades, the Cox Plate has given the racing world plenty of excitement and memories.

The first horse to win the Cox Plate was Violoncello from Great Britain. Other winners of our large breed were bred in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. Australia’s most famous horse, Phar Lap, won the Cox Plates in 1930 and 1931. And who could forget Kingston Town’s big wins in 1980, 1981 and 1982.

Rising Fast won the 1954 Cox Plate and became 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 race record in 1960 and in some quarters has been compared 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 and 3.54 seconds. Dulcify (1979) and Sunline (1999) share the greatest margin of gain by 7 lengths.

Global and proud

Since 1999, the Cox Plate has been part of the World Series of horse racing, which has added even more prestige and global significance. 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 newest weight-for-age champion.

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