Russian Camelot losing grip on Cox Plate favouritism

Update 1.10pm Tuesday - TAB reports a wager of $10,000 @ $4.50 on Russian Camelot.

Earlier report - Russian Camelot’s hold on favouritism is slipping for the 100th running of the Cox Plate after the Danny O’Brien-trained colt drew the outside barrier in Australasia’s weight-for-age championship. 

A field of 15, which includes emergency Buckhurst, has accepted for Saturday’s $5 million Group 1 contest at The Valley with Russian Camelot, to be ridden by Damien Oliver, drawn widest. 

Russian Camelot will start from barrier 14 if Buckhurst does not start and will continually move inwards if there is more than one scratching. 

While the draw was a talking point and has forced Russian Camelot to drift from $3.50 with TAB prior to Tuesday’s draw to $4.50 later on Tuesday morning, it is something that is not too concerning for O’Brien. 

“I understand why people talk about barrier draws because there’s not much left to talk (about) between now and the race,” O’Brien said. 

“We drew 22 in the Melbourne Cup last year (with winner Vow And Declare). 

“It was the same thing. Barriers are much overrated or discussed as to why horses win or don’t win races.” 

Russian Camelot (IRE) and Damien Oliver at The Valley on Saturday morning, picture Racing Photos

O’Brien said he would leave tactics up to Oliver on Saturday. 

“I’ll put Damien on the horse, and he’ll go to the barriers, and Damien will ride the horse,” O’Brien said. 

“That’s why you have the jockey. You don’t worry about how it’s going to pan out if you’ve got an outstanding rider on the horse (and) we’ve certainly got that.” 

Russian Camelot’s grip on the Cox Plate was loosened after Arcadia Queen got the better of him in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on October 10. 

O’Brien said the larger field on Saturday would ensure a different tempo than what was carved out in the Caulfield Stakes where Russian Camelot had only five opponents. 

“A Cox Plate with 14 runners, there’s going to be a bit more tempo on and Grandslam seemed to race really well in the Caulfield Guineas, running along,” O’Brien said. 

“Whatever happens it won’t be nearly as slowly run as what the Caulfield Stakes was. 

“She (Arcadia Queen) is a very good mare and she could easily be going into her second Cox Plate if they’d had her in it last spring, 

“She certainly showed that she’s right back to her best there in the Caulfield Stakes, and her best is very, very good and I’d expect her to start favourite on the day. 

“We’re hoping a few factors can turn around the result in the Caulfield Stakes (and) we’re very respectful of the task to beat her.” 

Arcadia Queen shares the second line of betting in Saturday’s race at $5 with Irish raider Armory who has firmed from $6 since draw. 

Also meeting support since Tuesday’s draw has been Kiwi mare Probabeel, shortening from $13 into $9.