Master to back-up in Cox Plate

For the third consecutive year, the Cox Plate appears that it will not have a capacity 14-horse field, despite the impending arrival of New Zealand's premier thoroughbred Princess Coup in Melbourne on Wednesday evening and trainer Danny O'Brien backing up Master O'Reilly.Princess Coup, which is at the top of betting, finished third behind Master O'Reilly in last year's Caulfield Cup, and rounded off Cox Plate preparations when steaming home from the rear to claim back-to-back Kelt Capital Stakes two weeks ago.

Master O'Reilly's trainer Danny O'Brien yesterday confirmed the gelding would back up in the Cox Plate after he caught the eye when finishing seventh in the Caulfield Cup.

"He was last at the 600 metres and pushed eight and 10 wide at the corner," O'Brien said.

"He was still finding the line strong with 56.5 kilograms, and was beaten 2½ lengths. I don't think there was anything wrong with the way he went.

"It was always my plan to run him in the Cox Plate, and he has pulled up well."

O'Brien, who described the Cox Plate as a very even race, confirmed Vlad Duric would stick with Master O'Reilly.

"Princess Coup is the favourite but we beat her in the Caulfield Cup quite convincingly last year," O'Brien said. "So Master O'Reilly is quite up to beating her."

Trainer Mark Kavanagh will also back up Maldivian, owner Llody Williams confirmed Zipping and C'Est La Guerre will run in the race, while Oaks winner Zarita will be ridden by Dwayne Dunn, who replaces Greg Childs

Possible Cox Plate field:

1. Sirmione (Bart Cummings) - Damien Oliver

2. Maldivian (Mark Kavanagh) - Michael Rodd

3. Zipping (John Sadler) - Danny Nikolic

4. Theseo (Gai Waterhouse) - Nash Rawiller

5. Master O'Reilly (Danny O'Brien) - Vlad Duric

6. Raheeb (Anthony Cummings) - C Symons/B Shinn

7. Alamosa (Mick Price) - Craig Newitt

8. C'est La Guerre (John Sadler) - Steven Arnold

9. Princess Coup (Mark Walker) - Opie Bosson

10. Zarita (Pat Hyland) - Dwayne Dunn

11. Gallant Tess (David Payne) - Glyn Schofield

12. Samantha Miss (Kris Lees) - Glen Boss

By Craig Young

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Photo by Bruno Cannatelli, to view Bruno's website click here