Highland Reel could provide Aidan O’Brien with a Cox Plate double
Irish horse Highland Reel has firmed to equal favouritism for the A$3 million Cox Plate after coming up with barrier four in the weight-for-age championship at Moonee Valley.
He is at $5.50 for Saturday's 2040m race alongside Kermadec (gate 10), the most favoured of trainer Chris Waller's three runners.
Highland Reel will be aiming to give trainer Aidan O'Brien and jockey Ryan Moore back-to-back wins after Adelaide became the first overseas-trained horse to win last year.
Criterion, who jumps from gate seven, has eased from $5.50 to $6 alongside the Waller-trained Winx who has the inside barrier.
The third of Waller's runners, Preferment, has barrier nine and has drifted from $11 to $14.
Godolphin has two runners - Hartnell ($18) and Complacent ($21) - after deciding not to accept with Contributer.
The absence of Contributer saved the Moonee Valley Racing Club committee making a decision on which horse to leave out of the field which has a capacity of 14.
The Gai Waterhouse-trained Pornichet had been regarded as the most likely to miss out on a start in Saturday's race.
Chris Waller's trio of Cox Plate contenders have finalised their preparations with work-outs at Moonee Valley.
Winx and Kermadec, who worked with their respective race riders Hugh Bowman and Glen Boss aboard, each looked strong in solo gallops.
Blake Shinn, who will watch Saturday's Cox Plate from the sidelines because of suspension, was pleased with Preferment who will be ridden by Hong Kong-based Nash Rawiller.
Meanwhile, trainer Paul Beshara is upbeat regarding the chances of star South Australian Happy Trails, despite drawing barrier 13. Beshara opted for gate 13, with only barriers 12 to 14 remaining in the selection process at yesterday's barrier draw.
"Barrier 13 is the lucky one," Beshara told the Herald Sun.
"I wasn't going to take barrier 12, no horse has won from there, or barrier 14 ... so 13 it was," he said.
"I'm born on the 13th and so is Chelsea, who rides him each day, so everything is looking good for Saturday."
Happy Trails eased in betting with tab.com.au following the draw. AAP