The Cox Plate, one of Australia’s most prestigious horse races, has been the stage for some of the most iconic moments in equine history.
The W. S. Cox Plate is a prestigious Group 1 Thoroughbred horse race for horses aged three years and older, run under Weight for Age conditions over a distance of 2040 meters.
First held in 1922, this event is renowned as one of Australia’s most important horse races, attracting the toughest and best horses, with the winner often considered the leading weight-for-age performer in Australasia.
We pay tribute to the top five Cox Plate winners, their jockeys, and trainers, who together have created some of the most memorable moments in Australian racing history.
Winx Makes History in 2018
Hugh Bowman and Winx made history by claiming an historic fourth Cox Plate in 2018
Jockey Hugh Bowman and breeder Debbie Kepitis celebrate Winx claiming victory for the fourth time
There has been no greater moment in Cox Plate history and there will unlikely be another moment like it to come.
In 2018, Australia’s finest horse, Winx, made history by becoming the first horse to win the weight-for-age championship four times. This victory marked her 29th consecutive triumph, defeating international competitor Benbatl.
This event was likened to Phar Lap’s 1930 achievement of four victories at Flemington, as noted by veteran sports commentator and race caller Bruce McAvaney.
‘We weren’t there in 1930 when Phar Lap won four races at Flemington,’ he said.
‘This is as close as we’ve ever been to anything that might have resembled that.
‘I have been following racing for 60 years. I have never known a day like this, a build up like this. It’s remarkable.’
Remarkably, the largest bet ever placed on Winx was $201,200 at $1.22, resulting in a win of $44,264 on the morning of the race.
This record-breaking wager came from a punter who had backed Winx in 11 straight races, accumulating a profit of $153,637.50 from around $1.2 million in bets.
This bet surpassed the previous record of $170,000 at $1.16 set by the same punter in the Turnbull Stakes last start.
Several other bets of $100,000 were also placed on Winx that day. Despite these large wagers, Winx’s winning odds of $1.22 remained unchanged after the record bet.
‘I really felt it (the pressure) this week, more than I’ve felt it before,’ jockey Hugh Bowman admitted after the race.
‘Race of the Century’ Between Bonecrusher and Our Waverley Star
In 1986, the Cox Plate witnessed a historic race that’s still regarded as the greatest in Australian horse racing history.
This monumental event was dubbed ‘The Race of the Century,’ featuring two exceptional New Zealand horses, Bonecrusher and Our Waverley Star.
The race was an intense battle from the start, with both horses locking horns from 800m out and continuing to fiercely compete until the finish line.
The lead position changed multiple times throughout the race, building suspense and excitement among spectators.
However, in the end, it was Bonecrusher who emerged victorious, winning by a neck after a thrilling contest.
The race was so intense that famed race caller Bill Collins, despite being out of tickets by the end of the race, managed to utter the iconic line, ‘Bonecrusher races into equine immortality.’
This phrase has since become symbolic of this legendary race and continues to resonate with racing enthusiasts.
Sunline Defends Title Against Stellar Field in 2000
In 2000, the exceptional mare Sunline achieved a historic feat by successfully defending her Cox Plate title, becoming only the second mare to do so after Flight in 1945/46.
Her performance in the 2000 Cox Plate was even more impressive than her previous win, marking this as one of her most notable career highlights.
Sunline faced a strong field that included renowned horses such as Caulfield Cup winner Diatribe, Oliver Twist, Testa Rossa, Tie The Knot, Show A Heart, Shogun Lodge, and Sky Heights.
However, she effortlessly outperformed her competition, finishing seven lengths ahead of her rivals and securing one of the most remarkable Cox Plate victories ever witnessed.
Sunline’s incredible front-running style is often compared to Might And Power, another iconic front-runner.
Her second Cox Plate win, where she led from start to finish, is considered her best performance. Jockey Greg Childs expertly guided her around the home turn, creating an unforgettable image of equine grace and power.
Despite the elite quality of the field, Sunline’s outstanding performance left them looking second-rate, attesting to her remarkable prowess and dominance.
Makybe Diva’s Legendary Win at the 2005 Cox Plate
Glen Boss aboard Makybe Diva, the champion stayer he declared to be the greatest of all time
Already celebrated as a champion, Makybe Diva elevated to the status of a legend with her victory at the 2005 Cox Plate in Moonee Valley.
As if on cue, the sun emerged from behind the rain clouds just in time for the great mare to steal the show.
Makybe Diva’s triumphant performance stands out among the most audacious victories in the history of the Cox Plate.
A memorable image from the race shows her outpacing more than ten horses spread across the track.
Steven King, who rode Fields Of Omagh, believed he was on his way to victory until he spotted Makybe Diva surging ahead from his outside.
Despite the immense effort this sustained run demanded from her, Makybe Diva secured her win, leaving an indelible mark on the spectators and fellow competitors alike.
Post-race, jockey Glen Boss revealed that he could feel her legs wobble from exhaustion, underscoring the immense effort she had put into the race. He also proclaimed he had never ridden a better horse.
‘You can walk away today and say you witnessed something unbelievable,’ Boss said.
‘People will talk about this for years and look back and say they were here.
‘She is something else.’
Kingston Town’s Historic Triple Win at the Cox Plate
In 1982, Kingston Town, the jet-black son of Bletchingly, made history at the Cox Plate by becoming the first horse to win the race three times consecutively.
Despite legendary race caller Bill Collins’ exclamation that “Kingston Town can’t win” as the horse seemed spent on the Valley turn for home, the champion proved otherwise.
Those watching the race would have agreed with Collins, but champions have a way of defying odds and expectations.
Kingston Town did just that, cementing his status not just as a champion, but as a legend.
While winning one Cox Plate is a mark of a champion, and two signifies a legend, Kingston Town’s unprecedented third victory was extraordinary.
Reflecting on Kingston Town’s performance in the 1980 Cox Plate, jockey Mal Johnston confidently stated that he knew as early as the 1600m mark that the race was theirs to win.
By the 800m point, he was contemplating by how much they were going to triumph.
This audacious prediction encapsulates the awe-inspiring dominance of Kingston Town in the Cox Plate races.