The importance of box draws in feature races has never been more clearly demonstrated than with $1 million Group 1 Sportsbet Melbourne Cup favourite Plaintiff.
Plaintiff, trained by three-time Melbourne Cup winner Jason Thompson, was the ‘slowest’ of Saturday night’s eight heat winners, clocking 29.66sec, but after drawing box one for the Cup Final is a clearcut $2.35 favourite with Sportsbet.
“In a race like the Melbourne Cup, you’ve got to make the final first; it doesn’t matter how you get there,” Thompson said.
“He’s speared the lids every time he’s drawn box 1 too!”
“It did surprise me that he came from behind to win his heat.
“It was a good dog in front of him (Kysaiah) and to check off it, rail underneath it, get past it and hold on in very ordinary conditions was a great effort.
“No matter where he drew, he was going to be a big player in the race, but to draw exactly where he wants is a bonus.”
Plaintiff, a son of beaten 2016 Melbourne Cup favourite Zambora Brockie, ticks all the boxes heading into the $650,000 to-the-winner Cup Final.
Winner of 17 from 31, he’s unbeaten in four starts from ‘the red’, while he’s had five starts at Sandown for four wins and a second, his only defeat coming when runner-up to superstar Wow She’s Fast in the G3 Launching Pad.
WATCH: PLAINTIFF (B4) came from behind to claim a determined Melbourne Cup heat victory, defeating KYSAIAH (B1) and LOVAZ BALE (B2) in 29.66sec, with SHE’S A PEARL (B5) fourth.
“He’s speared the lids every time he’s drawn box 1 too!” Thompson said.
“If he didn’t draw ‘the red’ we wanted an odd number, because the longer he’s in the boxes the better. That gives him more time to settle, and he generally begins better from odd boxes.
“The only time he’s been beaten at Sandown he missed the start in the Launching Pad from box 2.”
Box one is the most ‘winningest’ draw in the history of the great race, supplying 17 winners, including two of the past five, in Aston Dee Bee (2017), which was trained by Thompson’s wife Seona, and My Redeemer (2018).
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If the market is right and Plaintiff is victorious, Thompson will create history as the first trainer to win the Melbourne Cup on four occasions, while it would be a fifth celebration for the family.
Thompson has won the race with Light Of Fire (1994), Got A Moment (2012) and Black Magic Opal (2013).
“Plaintiff is similar to Aston Dee Bee, Black Magic Opal and Light Of Fire – all of them really,” he said.
“To win a Melbourne Cup, you’ve got to have good speed and more importantly, a good second section. That’s where you win the race, breaking them up down the back.
“I’m confident he’ll run well. You’d be a brave man to go out on a limb and say you’re going to win a race like this, but he’s got the box we wanted and now it’s up to him to take advantage of it.”
Another chapter in the Thompson family’s proud Melbourne Cup tradition could be written on Saturday, with Plaintiff to be handled by 21-year-old Luke.
“Luke handled Aussie Secret (5th) in last year’s Melbourne Cup and it’s great to see him with a real, live chance,” Jason said.
“Luke loves the racing side of things and really enjoys the responsibility of taking our dogs to the track, whether it’s for the Melbourne Cup or a Healesville maiden.”
After the Melbourne Cup, Thompson’s focus with Plaintiff will shift immediately to the $1 million-to-the-winner The Phoenix, the final event of the inaugural Sportsbet Dream Chasers Festival, to be held at The Meadows on Saturday, December 17.
Plaintiff, which has taken Neds’ slot in The Phoenix, is currently $5.50.
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