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Gailo Chop in great form for Cox Plate bid

Gailo Chop, ridden by Mark Zahra, wins the Caulfield Stakes.
Gailo Chop wins the Caulfield Stakes to set up a Cox Plate clash with Winx.

The call came from Gailo Chop’s managing owner Terry Henderson telling jockey Mark Zahra to keep the imported galloper in mind for the spring.

It was before Gailo Chop had made his return from a tendon injury.

“He said to me ‘keep him in mind, I think the horse is going really well’, if I wanted to commit to him,” Zahra said.

“I went down and worked him and he gave me a nice feel so I was happy to ride him and away we went.”

The jockey has been aboard in four of Gailo Chop’s five spring starts which hit a high point last start when he steered the seven-year-old to an all-the-way win in the Group One Caulfield Stakes.

It set up a crack at Saturday’s $3 million Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley.

“He’s in great form,” Zahra said.

“Every run he has progressed and got better and he was peaking last start. You’d think he’d only have to hold his form to be a place chance.”

Zahra took the Caulfield Stakes by the scruff of the neck, controlling the race from the front on Gailo Chop who held on to beat the fast-finishing Johannes Vermeer.

It was a second Group One win for the 2015 Mackinnon Stakes winner.

“He led and won the Mackinnon and in his work, when he’s in front he’s very hard to get past,” Zahra said.

“Whether or not he leads on Saturday, I’m not sure, but he races on the speed, he makes his own luck and he’s tough.”

Gailo Chop was eighth in the 2015 Cox Plate when prepared by French trainer Antoine De Watrigant.

The gelding is at $19 for Saturday with champion Winx $1.15 to make it a record-equalling three-peat.

“You wouldn’t be taken as sane to say you could beat her,” Zahra said.

“She’s just a once in a lifetime sort of horse. We’ll just show up and do what we’ve got to do and hope for the best.”

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