The W S Cox Plate has been running at Moonee Valley since 1922 and is billed as “the greatest two minutes in sport” but this year’s version took your breath away more than all the knee-tremblers you could possibly fit into 124 seconds in a month of Sundays.

It produced all the longing, striving, seeking, waiting, and yearning you could possibly ask for in a horse race when you are sitting on the winner; and I don’t mean that lunatic waving his whip around who took him past the post, then back up the straight to play to the crowd; and, ultimately, to the winner’s circle.

There has been a good deal of conjecture about the future of the Moonee Valley course since Lindsay Maxsted produced his review of the Melbourne metropolitan racing clubs. Some want it totally redeveloped to take advantage of its obvious real estate development potential.

I assume they envisage relaying the course to take out its constant twists and turns and then, surrounding the resulting doughnut with high-rise apartment blocks. Others want it closed and its feature races like the Cox Plate moved to Flemington. I would suggest that neither option is likely to happen in my lifetime.

More than 31,000 punters crammed into the tight confines of the Valley like sardines in a can with the lid removed. The sun shone brightly which heated the can to near boiling point by the eighth race at 4.30pm. Invariably, alcohol caused inhibitions to be shed more readily than the suit coats of the male members.

But it was grand! Altogether grand! The punters couldn’t get enough of it. Everybody likes a winner and I liked this one more than most.

The Valley is an excruciatingly tight and tricky track with Strathay all-weather surface around its 1,805 meter circumference and a straight of only 173 meters. The track rises 5.5m from 800m to post.

The $3 million Cox Plate is a classic weight-for-age Group 1 contest over 2040 meters. The rail was in the true position. The rating was Good 3 or 2 and the penetrometer was reading 4.58.

THE HORSE

So You Think is a raw, three-year-old (technically, he’s only a two-year-old because of that August horse birthday thingy) black colt and was having only his fifth public outing in polite company. Those five races have produced three firsts, a second (in a photo finish) and a fifth last up in the Caulfield Guineas.

Someone who knows him well describes him as “a big, gangly, leggy colt … Just look at him. He’s got great confirmation, he’s by a good sire; he’s got a deep girth and a lovely rein.”

He could have added he looked the part and was well prepared but he didn’t. So You Think was champing at the bit when he entered the mounting yard and was extremely well presented. My heart started to beat faster … Had I found thee, sweet mystery of life?

So You Think was foaled at the Windsor Park Stud in the beautiful Waikato region of Nuh Zuhlund on November 10, 2006. The man listed on his birth certificate as his father was a wham-bam-thankyou-maam shuttle stallion called High Chaparral from the Coolmore Stud in Co. Tipperary. He himself is a son of the great European sire Sadlers Wells.

His dam was Triassic (by Tights) who cost just $16,000 at a broodmare sale in Sydney in 2005. So You Think, was sold to Dato Tan Chin Nam for NZ$110,000 at the New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling sale in 2007. The other part-owner is Tunku Ahmad Yahaya who is by way of being the nephew of Tunku Abdul Rahman.

THE JOCKEY

Glen Boss is a very exuberant hoop who paid for his unbridled joy after winning the Cox Plate with a $1,000 fine and also a 10-meeting suspension for interfering with Heart Of Dreams on the first corner which he cut. I don’t think he gives a toss and neither should he. He rode a technically brilliant race and led from go to woo. How simple is that! His light-headedness can be put down to two weeks of wasting to make the weight.

THE RECKONING

The turf accountant brought home the bacon in a big way with a substantial bet with Mr Tabcorp on So You Thinks’ nose while at the Caulfield Cup the previous week. Like Glen Boss, we will get to eat again this week. Q.E.D.

The annual racing fraternity Mass will be held at St Francis’ Church, Melbourne (cnr Lonsdale and Elizabeth Streets) on Sunday 1st November at 9am. The Mass is attended by people of all denominations representing all sections of the racing industry (except the horses) and is offered for the well being of the racing industry as a whole.

The Melbourne Cup Carnival proper kicks off at Flemington on Saturday with the $1.5 million Victoria Derby for colts and geldings over 2500 metres and the L K S MacKinnon Stakes over 2000 metres. I can hardly wait but I suspect I will have to.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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