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12 international Group 1 winners invited to take on Winx in Cox Plate

Hugh Bowman salutes the crowd after winning a third Cox Plate onboard Winx.

Cox Plate organisers have extended invitations to 12 Group 1 winners from around the world, as they look for rivals for Australian supermare and three-time winner Winx on Thursday, October 27.

The previous three runnings of the Cox Plate have been somewhat of a procession for Chris Waller’s stable star. Even a slow start couldn’t stop Winx claiming her third-straight victory and that performance has helped Winx reach the same 132-rating handed to Australian racing’s favourite daughter, Black Caviar after she scorched to victory in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Ascot had been touted as a possible setting for Winx’s first appearance outside her homeland at the start of the season. Waller and the horse's owners decided it would be too much of a risk to go on a travelling tour of Europe and America with their six-year-old and declared she would be staying put in Australia.

Winx is currently the odds-on favourite to claim a historic fourth Cox Plate, with last year's runner-up Humidor the $13 second-favourite. However, in an attempt to drum up some real competition, Cox Plate organisers have sent out invitations to a legion of International Group 1 winners.

The headline name on the list of invitees is certainly Cracksman, who battled bravely to seal his third Group 1 on the bounce in the Coronation Cup at Epsom. John Gosden is likely to target the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe before a possible return to the Champion Stakes he won at Ascot the previous season, so a late-October trip to Moonee Valley remains highly unlikely.

Godolphin duo, Benbatl and Thunder Snow claimed stunning victories in the Dubai Turf and the Dubai World Cup respectively at the start of 2018. The boys in blue have been in flying form all season and both have been given the opportunity to enter the 2018 Cox Plate.

Highland Reel had to settle for third in the 2015 renewal of the Cox Plate and Aidan O’Brien has been given three chances to have another crack at Winx. Guineas winner Saxon Warrior has been handed an invite, but it’s unlikely O’Brien will want his three-year-old to travel that far. Newly-crowned Tattersalls Gold Cup winner Lancaster Bomber, along with UAE Derby winner, Mendelssohn are used to the flights and frights of globe-trotting and could head down-under in the final week of October.

Poet’s Word is the only invitee not to have a Group One victory on his CV. However, Sir Michael Stoute’s charge secured his second runner-up finish in a top-level contest when following Hawkbill home in the Sheema Classic and the Poet’s Word team could be open to travelling later in the season.

Japanese raiders have often made the trip to Australia when Group 1s are up for grabs and four of the country’s top middle-distance horses have been handed Cox Plate invites.

Almond Eye cruised to an impressive victory in the Japanese Oaks back in May and she would be gaining weight from her elders in the Cox Plate. Christophe Lemaire guided 14/1 shot, Mozu Ascot to a surprise victory in the historic Yasuda Kinen and he – along with Japanese Derby runner-up, Epoca D’Ora and former champion three-year-old, Persian Knight – have been invited to Moonee Valley at the end of the season.

William Mott’s Classic Stakes winner, Yoshida has been given the opportunity to travel from the US and have a crack at Winx. While that mission remains unlikely, Prix d’Ispahan victor Recoletos could follow in the footsteps of Vadamos – who finished fourth behind Winx in the 2016 renewal – and carry the French flag into the Cox Plate.

Cox Plate International Invites

ALMOND EYE (JPN) - Sakae Kunieda
BENBATL (UAE)  - Saeed Bin Suroor
CRACKSMAN (UK) - John Gosden
EPOCA D’ORO (JPN) - Hideaki Fujiwara
MOZU ASCOT (JPN) - Yoshito Yahagi
PERSIAN KNIGHT (JPN) - Yasutoshi Ikee
POET’S WORD (UK) - Sir Michael Stoute
RECOLETOS (FR) - Carlos Laffon-Parias
THUNDER SNOW (UAE) - Saeed Bin Suroor
YOSHIDA (USA) - William Mott

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12 international Group 1 winners invited to take on Winx in Cox Plate

Cox Plate organisers have extended invitations to 12 Group One winners from around the flat racing world, as they look for rivals for Australian supermare and three-time winner, Winx on Thursday 27th October.

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