Saturday’s WS Cox Plate created racing history, and raised the tantalising prospect that next week’s Melbourne Cup might create even more.
At the grand old age – for a racehorse – of nine, Fields of Omagh became the oldest horse ever to win the Cox Plate. That is a record unlikely to be surpassed.
Fields of Omagh started in five Cox Plates for two wins, a second, a third and one unplaced run. He retires from racing having won more than $6 million in prize money, the fourth highest stake earner in Australian racing history.
But even more significant history awaits his trainer, David Hayes, on Melbourne Cup Day. He has a definite chance of becoming the first trainer to train the winner of the four great races on the Australian calendar in the one year – the Golden Slipper, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup.
Miss Finland won the Golden Slipper, Tawqeet the Caulfield Cup, and on Saturday the Hayes-trained Fields of Omagh added the Cox Plate.
On Tuesday week, Tawqeet has an outstanding chance of giving Hayes the Melbourne Cup. The Caulfield Cup winner is the ruling favourite, and on his Caulfield Cup form he deserves to be.
But if Tawqeet does not measure up, Hayes has three other cup contenders – Short Pause, Defining and Jagger. It will add even more interest to the race that stops the nation.
The Cox Plate also proved – if it was necessary to do so – that Australia has the most professional race callers in the world.
The on-course caller, and caller for TVN/Sky, was Bryan Martin, one of the part-owners of Fields of Omagh. On Thursday he announced that the Cox Plate would be “Foo’s” last race, and his call of what must have been a race filled with emotion was absolutely flawless.
The Spring Racing Carnival hits top gear this Saturday with what I regard as the best day of racing – Derby Day – at Flemington. Derby Day will feature nine races – all of them group events, five at Group One level.