Mullins planning to take on Winx in Cox Plate with Riven Light
Willie Mullins is plotting a course that could break the hearts of Australian racing fans after revealing an ambitious plan to pitch his impressive Galway winner Riven Light in against the mighty Winx when she bids to secure a third Ladbrokes Cox Plate victory on October 28.
Winx, Chris Waller's darling of southern hemisphere racing, is the highest rated turf horse in the world and can count the past two Cox Plates, which is run over an extended ten furlongs, among her 21 career victories.
However, she might have to overcome an unlikely opponent when she lines up in the A$3m Moonee Valley Grade 1 this time.
Ireland's champion jumps trainer, who is no stranger to foreign raids after coming agonisingly close to plundering the 2015 Melbourne Cup with Max Dynamite, said: “Riven Light will need to improve but the Cox Plate is on our radar for him and we would like to take it on.”
On arriving from France last year, Riven Light made a successful debut over hurdles at Thurles in December with Ruby Walsh wearing the pink and green silks of Rich Ricci.
The five-year-old failed to progress as expected over flights, and produced his best effort for the stable when running out an impressive winner of the €100,000 BMW Handicap at Galway over a week ago.
Asked whether he was surprised by the speed Riven Light showed when winning the mile handicap, Mullins said: “No, because we entered him in the race with the hope he would do that.
“He shows us plenty of speed and we didn’t enter him just for show. We were hopeful he would do what he did.
“The manner of his victory probably surprised us a little. I thought he could be fast enough to be competitive in the race but it was a pleasant surprise to see how well he actually ran.”
Riven Light was a shade unlucky not to back that success up in another €100,000 contest when finishing fifth to Dream Walker on the festival's final day.
Mullins, who secured a first Grade 1 on the Flat when Wicklow Brave landed last year's Irish St Leger, said he would like to get another run or two into Riven Light before making the trip.
He added: “We will hopefully get one or two more runs into him before we start making concrete plans about Australia. We would like to run him on better ground on a more conventional track as Galway is a very unique racecourse and the ground was quite soft for both of his runs there.
“He is going to have to show his form again at a more conventional track on better ground which is something I am hoping he will be able to do.”
Connections cool on Caravaggio's Everest challenge
Connections of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Caravaggio have revealed the three-year-old is unlikely to run in the A$10 million Group 1 Everest Stakes at Randwick in October.
Coolmore Australia’s sales, marketing and racing manager Sebastian Hutch told ANZ Bloodstock News that Caravaggio was almost certainly an unlikely traveller.
Hutch said: “He came out of the race in France a bit flat and a bit sore, so he is going to need some time off. He looks less likely than likely at this stage that he will be coming for The Everest.
“It's disappointing because he's obviously an exceptional horse and looked to have the perfect credentials to be competitive in the race. That is horse racing, you accept the highs with the lows, and we will see what the next six weeks brings and then make a decision.”