Horses from near and far have been nominated for the first Cox Plate in five years without champion Winx.
The winner of the past four Cox Plates, champion Winx was retired in April.
In her absence, the Moonee Valley Racing club has received 187 nominations for this year’s Cox Plate on October 26 including 27 overseas-trained horses.
It is the highest number of entries since 2014 (225) and up from 135 last year.
“It was a great chapter in the race’s history,” MVRC chief executive Michael Browell said of Winx’s reign.
“It was fantastic for the club. For those of us that were on course last year when she won her fourth, I think you’ll remember that as one of the greatest days you’ve had at the track.
“But I think we’re all excited to see now who’s going to come in and be crowned the Cox Plate champion this year.”
Mystic Journey and Godolphin star Avilius, who both won barrier trials on Tuesday, headline the local entries along with Hartnell and Humidor, who have both finished second in Cox Plates to Winx in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
The international entries are from four countries and 12 different stables.
Champion Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien, who won in 2014 with Adelaide, has 11 nominations including this year’s Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck.
“We have entered 11 horses that we think might suit the race, but of course some of them don’t always progress as well as we were hoping,” O’Brien told Racing Victoria.
“But Anthony Van Dyck and Circus Maximus are two very hardy colts with good tactical speed, and both should handle nice ground.
“It’s probably too early at this stage to say who our number one seed is, we usually nominate a number of horses and then we will see how they progress from now.”
Browell said connections of recent German Group One winner Danceteria and Japanese horse Kluger, second to Winx in April’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes in Sydney, had accepted their invitations.
After winning the past four with Winx, Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller has 23 nominations including Verry Elleegant who is high in early markets.
Current favourite Mystic Journey won a Group Two race on the Cox Plate undercard last year and her trainer Adam Trinder says this year’s race has been a long-range plan.
“I feel it’s going to be a really strong affair with an international presence so there’s going to be nowhere to hide,” Trinder said.
“And we just hope that our filly is good enough to be competitive at least.”
Among the 160 Australasian-trained entries are 48 three-year-olds including Prince Fawaz and Castelvecchio who won Group One races over 1600m as two-year-olds.