STATE OF BEDLAM
Agonising wait for protest decision as Irish raider nabs $5m Cox Plate
STATE Of Rest survived a tense 30-minute protest to be crowned Cox Plate champion on Saturday, handing Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien a third Melbourne spring major in five years.
O’Brien, the dual Melbourne Cup winner courtesy of Australian-owned Rekindling (2017) and the reigning champion Twilight Payment (2020), now joins father Aidan on the Cox Plate honour roll. O’Brien was a 21-year-old jockey and aspiring trainer when his father brought Adelaide to The Valley in 2014 and left with the coveted silver plate.
On Saturday, tuned in from Ireland, the 28-year-old O’Brien experienced the thrill of winning one himself, partnering with Ballaratbased compatriot John Allen.
O’Brien was on the phone to stable representative Mark Power as State Of Rest passed the post, with a slender margin to Godolphin colt Anamoe, and maintained contact through the closed stewards inquiry.
State Of Rest and Anamoe brushed in the closing stages of the $5m major but stewards ultimately deemed the contact negligible.
But the incident was enough for Allen to mute any celebration after the winning post – just in case.
“I knew across the line I’d given him a bit of a bump,” a relieved Allen said after the inquiry.
“Craig (Williams) is always a good talker. I think there was too many ‘Paddys’ in there the boys (stewards) were saying they couldn’t understand us.
“The longer it was going definitely a few anxious moments but I think the right decision cision was made.”
In another big plus for Allen, his 14th career r Group 1 and first spring major r coincided with his partner, er, Emma Church, training a benchmark enchmark winner at Yarra Valley. y.
“She’ll be celebrating ng as well,” Allen (pictured right) said.
Allen gave State Of Rest the perfect and economical cal ride off the speed and when the gap opened at the top of the straight – earlier than expected – he shot to the lead.
“I knew down the side I was travelling well but I knew the main chances were probably going to be behind me,” Allen said. “I had to go quickly before the gap closed.”
Caulfield Guineas winner Anamoe charged into second, pegging back the margin with every stride. Champion mare Verry Elleegant stormed late to finish third ahead of Mo’unga.
Power confirmed the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes – a date with Zaaki potentially – was on the cards for State Of Rest but the decision would rest with O’Brien.
“I don’t know where he goes next,” Power said. “That’s magic and he’s (now) proven himself to be a world-class international competing at the top stage.”
Still trembling from the protest, Power praised Allen’s ride aboard State Of Rest. “It was a super, super ride from Johnny, he‘s strong as an ox, no better man to have on your side and the horse is super, he’s a proper, proper horse,” Power said.
The Cox Plate only came on to the radar in August when
State Of Rest quickened through a gap to win an American Grade 1 at Saratoga, New York State.
O’Brien incredibly could add a third Melbourne Cup with Twilight Payment to go around at Flemington on Tuesday week.