Winx Vs Folkswood in the Cox Plate
The magnitude of the challenge confronting Folkswood when he takes on world champion mare Winx in Saturday’s G1 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley is obvious.
But the Charlie-Appleby trained runner is still going into Australia’s premier weight-for-age race fit and ready to run the race of his life against the world’s highest-ranked turf horse.
“It is a big challenge to be coming up against Winx, but Folkswood is an improving young horse, who deserves his chance to be running in a race such as the Cox Plate,” Appleby said.
His rider Kerrin McEvoy, the in-form jockey of the Australian spring, and the winner of hundreds of races in the Godolphin colours, has the same attitude.
“It’s the Cox Plate, so we’re going to go out there to do our best,” said McEvoy.
“Anything can happen in a horse race, but on paper, Folkswood will have to run a personal best to get anywhere near Winx.
“But he gives every indication that he is ready to produce his best, and that’s as much as we can ask.”
Winx will be attempting to win her 22nd race on end, and to become only the second horse ever to win three successive Cox Plates and will go into the race as its hottest favourite since the legendary Phar Lap in 1931.
Folkswood will jump from barrier five, one gate to the inside of Winx who completed her final pre-race gallop on Tuesday watched by thousands of fans at Moonee Valley.
“It was just maintenance work, six furlongs at three-quarter pace and an easy two furlongs to finish,” said rider Hugh Bowman.
Despite the pre-race dominance of Winx, Bowman is as respectful of his opponents as they are of him and his horse.
“I’m not going to fall into the trap of failing to respect my rivals,” he said.
“This is racing and nothing is certain. I can only say that Winx is as ready as she has ever been and we’ll be taking nothing for granted.”
Folkswood, meanwhile, went through his normal routine at the quarantine centre at Werribee racecourse this week, his work suggesting he has trained on well since winning the Listed Cranbourne Cup at his Australian debut on October 15.
The son of Exceed And Excel worked strongly at Werribee on Wednesday and Appleby’s travelling head lad Chris Connett, who was part of the team who performed so well in Australia last spring, reported all to be in order, right down to his horse’s ability to handle the race-day hype.
“He’s a pretty chilled out horse,” Connett said.
“He took it all well going to Cranbourne and it was nice to get him down there and stand in the race-day stalls like you do here, which is different to at home.
“It will be a big day and it will be great to be there.”
Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby is respectful of the formidable opponent Folkswood faces in Saturday’s G1 Cox Plate but still adamant the Cranbourne Cup winner will give a good account of himself.
Winx, a champion daughter of the Darley stallion Street Cry, will be attempting her 22nd successive win when lining up for Australia’s biggest weight-for-age race at Moonee Valley.
“We know there is a huge mountain in front of us now, but at the same time, we feel it is a great honour to participate against the wonder mare,” Appleby said from his Newmarket (UK) base.
“Being among her rivals, we are all on the same page, but as Hugh Bowman (Winx’s jockey) said, at the end of the day it is a horse race.
“I am happy with the draw, and I am very pleased the way Folkswood has come out of his Cranbourne experience,” the Godolphin trainer added.