Racing: Cox Plate entrants sparkle

Waterhouse all smiles as Pierro and More Joyous score high-class victories.

More Joyous (blue and white colours) will contest the Toorak Handicap en route to the Cox Plate. Photo / Getty Images
More Joyous (blue and white colours) will contest the Toorak Handicap en route to the Cox Plate. Photo / Getty Images

Victorian jockey Craig Williams is prepared to patiently await a phone call from trainer Gai Waterhouse for the ride on unbeaten colt Pierro in the Cox Plate.

Williams has been offered the Plate ride on the New South Wales triple crown winner and will ride him if he takes on Australasia's best weight-for-age gallopers in the 2040m race on October 27.

"I'm more than happy to wait for Gai's call," Williams told the Herald Sun. "He will run in the Caulfield Guineas on October 13 with Nash Rawiller in the saddle and then Gai will decide if he goes on to the Cox Plate a fortnight later.

"Gai reckons he might be the best horse she has ever trained. Nash rates him up there with the best he has ridden and he has ridden plenty of champs. But Gai also has told me that he is too valuable [as a future sire] to risk him by running in the Plate if she is not completely satisfied with him after the Guineas.

"So I'll sit back and wait for her call. If he goes to the Plate, I'll make the 49.5kg and ride him."

Williams had a rear-view look [on fourth-placed Road Trippin] at the son of Lonhro when Pierro won his eighth consecutive career start in the Stutt Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on Friday night and was super impressed.

Pierro now is at the prohibitive odds of $1.60 for the Caulfield Guineas, and firmed to $3.80 favourite for the Cox Plate.

Williams, who won the Plate last year on Pinker Pinker, said the Cox Plate was never a gift race, regardless of the weight advantage for 3-year-olds.

"Hardened older gallopers like Manighar, More Joyous, Ocean Park, Green Moon, Sincero and others who without doubt will come out of the Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington next Saturday will guarantee a dog-fight because they will be hammering along from the 800m."

Pierro's stablemate More Joyous has had a A$150,000 ($188,000) exercise gallop at Rosehill to win her 20th stakes race ahead of more challenging assignments this spring.

Sent into Saturday's group three Golden Pendant (1400m) at $1.03, Sydney's pin-up mare was never out of second gear, cruising to the line 2 lengths ahead of Skyerush ($41) to collect first prize.

The runner-up's Guy Walter-trained stablemate Forarainyday ($91) was scratched from a benchmark race on Wednesday and picked up valuable black type with her third.

Owner John Singleton was quick to point out More Joyous' place in Australasian history.

"She is just the seventh mare in history to win 20 group races," Singleton said. "And how fortunate we are that we've got two of them racing now. It's just incredible and it won't happen again."

Champion Black Caviar is the other mare still active while Sunline was the most recent before her.

Still on a high from Pierro's win in Friday night's Stutt Stakes at Moonee Valley, trainer Gai Waterhouse said More Joyous did everything she expected. "She is just so professional.

"I was pleased to see her go right to the line. I don't want her to learn bad habits.

"Toorak here we come."

Under the conditions of the Pendant, More Joyous carried just 59kg, the same as her previous start in the Sheraco, and Waterhouse said it was a luxury for a mare of her quality.

"We are afraid of top weights these days, afraid to give more than 60kg."

More Joyous won the 2010 Toorak Hcp (1600m) carrying 58kg and won this year's Doncaster under 57.5kg.

She will carry 57kg in the Cox Plate, 7kg more than 3-year-old Pierro.

Waterhouse would not be drawn on a preference between the two.

"Pierro is still learning," she said. "More Joyous is a mature woman.

"I just have to get them there."

Betting: $3.80 Pierro, $7 More Joyous, Ocean Park; $8 Manighar, $13 Green Moon, $15 Proisir, Rekindled Interest; $21 Happy Trails, Shoot Out, Sincero; $26 Secret Admirer.


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