Cox Plate fave impresses at Valley
There were no concerns for trainer John O’Shea after Cox Plate favourite Contributer had his first look at Moonee Valley on Tuesday morning ahead of Saturday’s Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m).
The six-year-old – who is currently rated the equal $11 top pick in Crownbet’s Cox Plate market – worked on his own over 1200m, sprinting home his last 400m in 24.85 seconds.
The entire strung together three-straight wins during the Sydney autumn before he was scratched as favourite on the eve of the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) after straining a ligament in a hind leg.
Pleased by Tuesday’s performance, O’Shea said Contributer wasn’t out to run quick time but appeared to have no trouble handling the tight Moonee Valley turn.
“He had a nice day out and most importantly he got around the track really well and kicked off the bend and got to the line beautifully so I was really happy with the work,” he said.
“Mentally he’s very good and he’s developed into a magnificent specimen. He’s probably 20kg heavier and he’s going to race at that on Saturday and it isn’t a fat 20kg, he looks ready to go so hopefully that reflects in his performance.
“He’s got nice improvement to come from whatever he does on Saturday but he’s got a good foundation going into Saturday and I’m really happy with him.
“He’s been competitive in all of his first-up runs in Australia and I’m sure he’ll be competitive on Saturday.”
O’Shea confirmed that Dwayne Dunn would partner the horse on Saturday but only because regular jockey James McDonald will be riding in Sydney.
“James McDonald is our number one rider obviously and when he is available to ride the horse he’ll take the ride,” O’Shea said.
“We need an experienced jockey to give him a lovely ride on Saturday and Dwayne Dunn is the right man for the job.”
O’Shea was similarly pleased with the gallop of three-year-old colt Furnaces, who will tackle the older horses in Saturday’s Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m).
The son of Exceed And Excel worked over 800m alongside stablemate Bantam, sprinting home his last 400m in 24.3 seconds as he went straight past his work partner.