Cox Plate has served up some epic wins
IT HAS been the heavyweight championship of Australia, but now the Cox Plate has gone global.
Phar Lap, Rising Fast, Tulloch, Tobin Bronze, Gunsynd ... Dulcify. The honour roll includes some of the greatest horses to have graced the turf in this country.
But the win by Irish-trained northern hemisphere three-year-old Adelaide last year has taken the weight-for age classic to another level.
As well as the best middle-distance horses from across Australia, this year's race features three overseas runners that all have genuine winning claims.
After his triumph with Adelaide, Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien has returned with Highland Reel, Frenchman Antoine De Watrigant is here with Australian-owned Gailo Chop and English trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam has high hopes with Arod.
Throw in local hopes including Criterion, Fawkner, Kermadec, Preferment and Winx, and this year's race promises to add another illustrious chapter to the Cox Plate story.
APN's Gordon Clark has delved into the archives and come up with five of the best Cox Plate winners we've seen, although with so many champions having won the race, we've focused on the past 30 years.
1: BONECRUSHER 1986
Dubbed "the race of the century", the 1986 Cox Plate will forever be remembered as the battle between Kiwi gallopers Bonecrusher and Our Waverley Star. Hyped as a match race between the pair, it lived up to expectations when they both took off at the 800m and quickly raced away from their rivals. It was a dogfight over the last 600m, with Bonecrusher edging ahead right on the line to race into equine immortality.
2: KINGSTON TOWN 1982
"Kingston Town can't win". That statement by renowned caller Bill Collins as the field approached the turn in the 1982 edition remains one of the most iconic moments in Australian racing. Moments later the great horse found another gear as only champions can, rounding up the field to become the first and only horse to win the race three times.
3: MAKYBE DIVA 2005
With two Melbourne Cups in the trophy cabinet, mighty mare Makybe Diva lined up in the 2005 Cox Plate with a third Cup run uncertain. To the thrill of the massive crowd, the champion stayer swept around the field on the home turn for a stunning victory, before backing up 10 days later to become the first horse to win the Melbourne Cup three times.
4: MIGHT AND POWER 1998
A brilliant front-runner who ground his rivals into the turf, Might And Power became only the second horse - after Rising Fast in 1954 - to win the Cox Plate and Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. He had won the Cups double in 1997, and in 1998 became the first Melbourne Cup winner since Phar Lap in 1931 to come back the following year and win the Cox Plate. Makybe Diva was also able to do that in 2005.
5: NORTHERLY 2001
Champion Kiwi mare Sunline was aiming for her third straight Cox Plate in 2001, but West Australian bulldog Northerly spoiled the party. Taking off at the 1000m, Sunline looked set for victory until Northerly wore her down in the straight, and then survived a series of protests to be crowned the winner. It was almost a carbon copy the next year when Sunline again led at a cracking pace, only for Northerly to prove his triumph a year earlier was no fluke by going back-to-back.