More changes for Maldivian?

Trainer Mark Kavanagh will decide this morning whether to make further changes to the gear on Maldivian for Saturday’s Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley.

Maldivian wins Race 5, the Yalumba Caulfield Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday 13 October 2007, ridden by Michael Rodd, trained by Mark Kavanagh.  Photo by Bronwen Healy

Kavanagh said he was still considering his options but hasn’t ruled any gear in or out for the gelding who is $16 in TAB Sportsbet’s latest Cox Plate market.

“There maybe a gear change but I haven’t decided yet,” Kavanagh said.

“We are still experimenting and I have got until the morning and I will decide then.”

Maldivian wore a tongue tie and a cross-over noseband for the first time when he finished ninth in the Caulfield Cup.

Kavanagh said the distance rather than the gear proved the problem for the Zabeel gelding in the Cup.

“He ran a fair race but he didn’t run the 2400 metres out,” Kavanagh said.

“He just didn’t stay the trip.”

Kavanagh can look towards the Cox Plate with some optimism as Moonee Valley has been a course where Maldivian has run some of his best races.

He has been to the track four times for two wins including last year’s Listed JRA Cup (2040m), and also finished second in the Group Two Carlyon Stakes (1200m) in January this year.

Four starts ago he was beaten a length when fourth to Guillotine in the Group Two Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) which has been a traditional lead up and key form race for the Cox Plate over the years.

“He has won over the distance and at the track but is yet to win there at weight-for-age,” Kavanagh noted.

Kavanagh scoffed at reports that this year’s Cox Plate field was sub-standard to previous years.

“They are all horses anyone would like to own,” Kavanagh said.

“It is not an easy race and there is no standout.”

Millionaire owner Lloyd Williams supported Kavanagh.

“Any Group One race is hard to win,” Williams said.

“There are not too many bad Group One winners.”

Kavanagh could have had two Cox Plate runners but stands by the decision to start Caulfield Guineas winner Whobegotyou in the AAMI Vase (2040m) rather the Cox Plate on Saturday.

He said Whobegotyou would be better equipped for the the Cox plate next year.

“With three-year-olds you put them around with the best and it generally blows them up,” Kavanagh said.

Samantha Miss will be the only three-year-old in this year’s field and the Sydney filly is second favourite at $4.

Top New Zealand mare Princess Coup arrives in Melbourne on Wednesday and is the $3.50 favourite.

Lloyd Williams confirmed that stablemates Zipping ($7) and C’est La Guerre ($26) would both line up in the Cox Plate.

“Zipping ran okay (eighth) last year in the Cox Plate and he looks particularly well,” Williams said.

He said Zipping and C’est La Guerre were both Melbourne Cup bound along with stablemate and last year’s winner Efficient.

Mick Price-trained Toorak Handicap winner Alamosa has tightened in the market to $9 while Australian Cup winner Sirmione is $14 to give Bart Cummings his fourth Cox Plate win.

Both Alamosa and Sirmione will gallop at Moonee Valley’s Breakfast with the Best tomorrow morning.

Theseo ($14), Gallant Tess ($31), and Raheeb ($61) are other Cox plate contenders listed to gallop.

The Cox Plate barrier draw will be held soon after final declarations close tomorrow morning.
By Robert Windmill