Although it has been 35 years since Ron Quinton won the Cox Plate on Kingston Town, he still vividly remembers every stride.
Quinton, now a trainer, rode the legendary horse in the second of his three consecutive Cox Plate wins.
While the race shines brightly in his mind, so does Quinton’s horror after drawing the inside.
“I was terrified of drawing the one alley because they pack up and get around you and start taking off,” Quinton told AAP.
After relaying his concerns to master trainer Tommy Smith, Quinton got a simple response.
“He said to me ‘when you get to the 800 metres, just pull out and go’,” Quinton said.
“I thought there’s not much good of me going any further with this conversation because sometimes it’s just not that easy to do that.”
As it worked out, Quinton was able to get off the fence at the 1000m mark, but clear running was not established as he tracked up behind four horses.
“I wasn’t going that good either, but once I sort of got inside the Caulfield Cup winner (Silver Bounty) and pushed him out a little bit around the turn, he straightened his head up,” Quinton said.
“He just took off the big old bugger.”
About halfway up the short Moonee Valley straight, Quinton knew the race was his.
“Roy Higgins rode the second horse Lawman and pulling up he said to me ‘when I went up around them all I thought you had no chance’.
“And that’s what a great horse he was.”
In this year’s race, Quinton has Winx’s versatility giving jockey Hugh Bowman the edge over the John O’Shea-trained Hartnell.
“I’d have to put her slightly ahead,” Quinton said.
“I love Hartnell and John’s got him flying this time.
“But I just think that Hughie might have a few more strings in his bow with her.
“I don’t think it will matter how the race is run for her but it may have some bearing on him.”
Navigating the Valley won’t be an easy task for the riders, Quinton said.
“It’s a bugger of a track to ride I reckon. You need plenty of luck and you need it at the right time,” he said.
But the most important ingredient to winning a Cox Plate is simple.
“It does help if you’re on a bloody good horse.”