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Waller focused on Winx, not Plate rivals

Winx winning the 2016 Cox Plate.
Winx streets her rivals in last year’s Cox Plate and is an unbackable favourite to do it again.

Chris Waller isn’t getting caught up in over-thinking Cox Plate scenarios but the champion trainer doubts whether any of Winx’s rivals will adopt daring tactics in the $3 million race.

He says it would only be to their detriment.

Winx is the $1.15 favourite to win a record-equalling third Cox Plate on Saturday, with lightly weighted three-year-old Royal Symphony next at $15.

Waller has concentrated on having Winx in peak condition rather than the make-up of the the nine-horse field and possible tactics.

“I think with Winx it’s just a matter of getting her into a nice rhythm, not being too fazed by lightweight chances, where the pace is likely to come from,” Waller said.

“Those horses obviously have to give their competitors some respect as well so I doubt there would be silly tearaway leaders or horses making mid-race moves because it will bring them undone.

“We all know that the Cox Plate adds a lot of pressure and any horse trying to run out of their ordinary I think will come unstuck.”

Jockey Hugh Bowman knows Winx so well and both he and Waller have great faith in the mare to answer any challenge, as she has in winning 21 races in a row.

“He’ll be aware of lightweight chances, horses drawn to his inside, horses that do race up on the pace and horses that get back,” Waller said.

“That’s about as much analysing as we’ll put into the race, because we’ve got a pretty good horse to cope with most scenarios.”

Royal Symphony’s trainer Tony McEvoy won the 2003 Cox Plate with Fields Of Omagh and says it is a “completely different race to any other”.

“Pressure starts building from 1200 metres and it’s a really tough race to win,” McEvoy said.

“You need a very tough horse.

“Is my horse tough? I’m not too sure.

“Is Winx tough? Yes.”

Damien Oliver rides Epsom Handicap winner Happy Clapper and believes the gelding is in career-best form.

Winx has beaten Happy Clapper in their five meetings but Oliver said you still want to go in believing you can win.

“You’re defeated already if you think you’re going out there for second,” he said.

“I don’t think I’ll be going out there personally to try to defeat Winx. I think that’s the quickest way you can bring yourself undone.

“I’ll just be trying to ride my horse to give him the best possible chance and see what happens from there.”

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