Sir Dragonet defeats former O'Brien stablemate Armory to capture Cox Plate
The 100th Cox Plate was always going to stand out in history, but jockey Glen Boss ensured it would remain in the memory for many years after snaring his fourth win in the race aboard class import and the former Aidan O'Brien-trained Sir Dragonet on Saturday.
The fast-finishing victory over Armory and Russian Camelot was the first for Victorian racing's emerging training force Ciaron Maher and David Eustace.
Sir Dragonet came from midfield to run down Armory and win by a length-and-a-half, with three-quarters of a length to favourite Russian Camelot.
Mugatoo, who all but hit the front out wide on the home turn, battled on well for fourth, just in front of luckless mare Arcadia Queen, who nearly fell mid-race.
Boss, who joined Hugh Bowman and Brent Thomson as four-time winners of the race, was a last-minute booking for the horse after Bowman opted to take a careless riding suspension this week so as to ride Anthony Van Dyck in last week's Caulfield Cup.
Boss had been in the winner's stall three times before, but he is still amazed at the thrill such races give him.
"As a young boy I used to watch a [video] of Kingston Town and Manikato and I wore that out, so the Cox Plate was ingrained into my psyche as a young boy," he said.
"It's a special race and I just couldn't have scripted the run any better. He just gave me a lovely ride. I was twitching my fingers throughout the race and he was there for me. I thought 'This is nearly going to be winning this'. He was up for the task.
"I only thought once the rain came that this was the right horse. He's got great form and he just might go a little bit better in a Melbourne Cup, I'm telling you, because he was actually getting warmed up towards the line. He was actually getting quicker towards the post.
"The way he gave me a feel today, he might be running in a Melbourne Cup and running very well in one."
Boss, who had previously won the Cox Plate with Makybe Diva in 2005, So You Think in 2009 and Ocean Park in 2012, was fined A$2,000 (£1,095) by stewards for his pre and post-race celebrations.
Stewards hit the rider with a $1,000 fine for his celebration when he rose high in the stirrups before Sir Dragonet had crossed the line.
A few minutes later Boss was hugging stable staff after dismounting from the horse and stewards fined him another $1,000 for breaching Covid-19 protocols.
A former jumps jockey, Maher has won four Grand Annual Steeplechases but rates winning the Cox Plate as the greatest moment in his training career.
"This is something else," he said. "The Cox Plate is the race you dream to just have a runner in let alone win it. Just having a horse good enough to run in the race. It's unbelievable."
Maher said he was hoping to have at least three horses (Persan and Etah James) in the Melbourne Cup with Sir Dragonet already making plenty of appeal.
"He wouldn't have blown a candle out, he was like the stable pony after the race," he said.
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