One of Australia’s most prestigious horse races, the Cox Plate has hosted some of the most iconic moments in horse history.
The WS Cox Plate is a prestigious Group 1 Thoroughbred horse race for horses aged three and over, run under weight for age conditions over a distance of 2040 metres.
First held in 1922, this event is considered one of Australia’s premier horse races, attracting the toughest and best horses. The winner is often considered the leading performer by weight in Australasia.
We recognize 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 securing a historic fourth Cox Plate in 2018
Jockey Hugh Bowman and breeder Debbie Kepitis celebrate winning Winx for the fourth time
There has been no greater moment in Cox Plate history and it is unlikely that such a moment will come again.
In 2018, Winx, Australia’s top horse, made history by becoming the first horse to win the weight class championship four times. This victory marked her 29th consecutive triumph, defeating international rival Benbatl.
This event was compared to Phar Lap’s achievement of four victories at Flemington in 1930, as noted by veteran sports commentator and race director Bruce McAvaney.
“We weren’t there in 1930 when Phar Lap won four races at Flemington,” he said.
“This is the closest we’ve ever come to something that could have resembled something like this.”
“I have been following racing for 60 years. I have never experienced a day like this, such a build-up. It’s remarkable.’
Notably, the highest bet ever placed on Winx was $201,200 at $1.22, resulting in a profit of $44,264 on the morning of the race.
This record-breaking bet came from a bettor who had backed Winx in 11 consecutive races, earning $153,637.50 in winnings from around $1.2 million in bets.
This bet beat the previous record of $170,000 at $1.16 set by the same bettor last time the Turnbull Stakes started.
Several other $100,000 bets were also placed on Winx that day. Despite these high stakes, Winx’s odds of winning remained unchanged at $1.22 after the record bet.
“I really felt it (the pressure) this week, more than ever before,” admitted jockey Hugh Bowman after the race.
“Race of the Century” between Bonecrusher and Our Waverley Star
In 1986, the Cox Plate hosted a historic race that is still considered the greatest in Australian horse racing history.
This monumental event was dubbed “The Race of the Century” and featured two extraordinary New Zealand horses: Bonecrusher and Our Waverley Star.
The race was a hard-fought battle from the start, with both horses facing each other from 800m away and continuing to battle fiercely until the finish line.
The leading position changed several times throughout the race, which created tension and excitement among the spectators.
In the end, however, it was Bonecrusher who emerged victorious, narrowly winning after a thrilling battle.
The racing was so intense that even though he was out of tickets at the end of the race, famous race caller Bill Collins managed to utter the iconic phrase: “Bonecrusher races into horse immortality.”
This phrase has since become a symbol of this legendary race and continues to be well received by racing enthusiasts.
Sunline defends title against Stellar Field in 2000
In 2000, the exceptional mare Sunline achieved a historic achievement by successfully defending her Cox Plate title, becoming only the second mare to do so after Flight 1945/46.
Her performance at the 2000 Cox Plate was even more impressive than her previous win, marking it as one of her most notable career highlights.
Sunline faced a strong field which 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 easily bested her competition, finishing seven lengths ahead of her rivals and securing one of the most remarkable Cox Plate victories ever seen.
Sunline’s incredible front-running style is often compared to Might And Power, another iconic front-runner.
Her second Cox Plate victory, where she led from start to finish, is considered her best performance. Jockey Greg Childs expertly guided her through the finish line, creating an unforgettable image of horse grace and power.
Despite the top quality of the field, Sunline’s outstanding performance seemed second-rate and was a testament to her remarkable skill and dominance.
Makybe Diva’s legendary win at the 2005 Cox Plate
Glen Boss aboard Makybe Diva, the champion stayer he described as the greatest of all time
Makybe Diva was already hailed as a champion and achieved legend status with her victory in the 2005 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.
As if on cue, the sun emerged from behind the rain clouds just in time for the big mare to steal the show.
Makybe Diva’s triumphant performance was one of the boldest victories in Cox Plate history.
An unforgettable image from the race shows her leaving behind more than ten horses spread across the course.
Steven King, riding Fields Of Omagh, thought he was on his way to victory until he saw Makybe Diva charging forward from the outside.
Despite the immense effort this sustained run required of her, Makybe Diva secured her victory and left an indelible impression on viewers and competitors alike.
After the race, jockey Glen Boss revealed that he felt her legs wobbling with exhaustion, underlining the tremendous effort she had put into the race. He also proclaimed that he had never ridden a better horse.
“You can walk away today and say you saw something incredible,” Boss said.
“People will talk about it for years and look back and say they were here.”
“She’s something different.”
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 in a row.
Despite legendary race director Bill Collins’ proclamation that “Kingston Town can’t win” as the horse appeared exhausted on the way home in the Valley, 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 have done just that, cementing their status as not just champions but legends.
While winning one Cox Plate is the mark of a champion and two signifies a legend, Kingston Town’s unprecedented third win 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.
At the 800-meter mark, he thought about how much they would win.
This bold prediction sums up Kingston Town’s impressive dominance in the Cox Plate races.