Timeform's Cox Plate Preview: Sacred Falls a gift from God

The Cox Plate takes place at Moonee Valley on Saturday
The Cox Plate takes place at Moonee Valley on Saturday
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The Aidan O'Brien-trained Adelaide runs in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on Saturday, and Gary Crispe has previewed the Group 1 event...

That performance gave Adelaide a Timeform rating of 124 and therefore makes him a serious contender, but he does have hurdles to overcome, namely the small, tight turning Moonee Valley circuit, a wide barrier and vastly different race tempo. It will require a champion ride from his champion rider Ryan Moore to get him into the money...

The Chris Waller-prepared Sacred Falls has been in sparkling form this campaign, winning the G1 George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick two starts back, running right up to his best (TF 127), and he then kept on gamely from a long way back to finish fourth in the G1 Underwood Stakes behind Fawkner last time.

Although beaten, there was considerable merit in the effort. Sacred Falls was forced to go back from a wide barrier, Zac Purton electing to ride for luck. At the 800m Sacred Falls was conceding the leaders around 13 lengths but steadily made ground from 600m out, switching wide approaching the home turn. Once balanced up, Sacred Falls powered home late to finish just over two lengths behind the winner, Fawkner.

Sacred Falls hasn't got the low draw that connections wanted - he is drawn nine in the 14-runner field - but, after looking at possible pace map options, Purton may be able to find a spot a few pairs back as the field settles into shape. With that in mind, Sacred Falls shouldn't be at a disadvantage and, if he runs to his best, he is sure to be on the premises, his career-high Timeform rating marking him down as one of the best in the field. 

Fawkner, who scored handily in the G1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m), represents the biggest threat to Sacred Falls along with Sacred Falls' stable mate Royal Descent, Irish galloper Adelaide and Criterion.

Fawkner has developed from a handicapper to a genuine weight-for-age galloper this campaign, running a close second on resumption in the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) behind Dissident before his narrow win over Criterion in the Caulfield Stakes. As he showed at Caulfield, Fawkner has excellent tactical speed, impressing with how he quickened on the turn for home, and that run will have topped him off nicely for today. Given the way this race is likely to be run, he should enjoy a perfect trail behind the speed from barrier four.

A tough customer, Fawkner handles the Moonee Valley track well, an attribute that will stand him in good stead for the task ahead. 

2013 ATC winner Royal Descent is an interesting runner, Chris Waller giving her another chance to break back into the winners' circle at the highest level. Winless since her ATC Oaks victory, Royal Descent has been a model of consistency this campaign finishing second on each of her four runs, including her last two at Group One level behind He's Your Man in the Epsom Handicap and Sacred Falls in the George Main Stakes. Royal Descent is yet to race at Moonee Valley but given she likes some give in the ground, the surface should suit her.

Last start in the Epsom, Royal Descent surprisingly peaked her Timeform rating at 125 which, if repeated, would make her difficult to beat as she gets the 4 lb mares' allowance. Royal Descent is drawn nicely as well which should assist her new rider Glen Boss to take up a handy position.

Irish visitor Adelaide is the X Factor in the race. The lightly raced - but highly-touted - entire, under the care of champion trainer Aidan O'Brien, is still only a three-year-old by northern hemisphere time but brings a global form perspective to the race.

Adelaide has raced in four different countries on his last five starts -Ireland, UK, USA and France - winning twice and placing on the other three occasions. Three runs back Adelaide was runner up in a weak G1 Belmont Derby (2011m) before winning the G1 Secretariat Stakes (2011m) at Arlington, then looking unlucky in France in the G2 Prix Neil (2400m), finishing behind Ectot in a race he should have won with an unimpeded run.

That performance gave Adelaide a Timeform rating of 124 and therefore makes him a serious contender, but he does have hurdles to overcome, namely the small, tight turning Moonee Valley circuit, a wide barrier and vastly different race tempo. It will require a champion ride from his champion rider Ryan Moore to get him into the money.

ATC Derby and Rosehill Guineas winner Criterion has peaked at the right time and is another who will appreciate the give in the Moonee Valley track. Criterion was very strong last time out just failing to catch Fawkner in the Caulfield Stakes, running to a Timeform rating of 124, and a repeat of that effort would give him strong claims. 

Off Time: 07.40 BST
Recommendation: Back Sacred Falls @ 7.0

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