Trainer Lindsey Smith is confident he has veteran galloper Black Heart Bart primed to cap his comeback to racing with a win in Saturday’s Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley.
Connections paid the $200,000 late nomination fee to the Weight-For-Age classic for the son of Blackfriars and was among the final field of 14 selected by the Moonee Valley Racing Club committee this morning.
Black Heart Bart roared into Cox Plate contention with a win in the Underwood Stakes (1800m) last month, before he was narrowly beaten by fellow Cox Plate aspirant Cape Of Good Hope in the Caulfield Stakes (2000m) last start.
The gelding drew barrier 11 for the $5 million feature, with the potential to come into 10 should third emergency Gailo Chop be withdrawn.
Smith said he couldn’t be happier with how things had panned out in the build up to the Cox Plate.
“11 is my favourite number, so it all smells good to me,” he told TABradio.
“He galloped this morning on the course proper at Warrnambool and the vision looked good.
“The jockey Paddy Bell was happy.
“We’re glad to be in the event.”
Smith is no stranger to success on Cox Plate day, having taken out the Moonee Valley Vase (2040m) with Plastered in 2004 on the way to taking out the Victoria Derby (2500m) a week later.
However, Smith said a win in the main event this week would hold a special place in his long list of achievements.
“They all mean a lot to me, even if I’m at Bunbury,” he said.
“This is more a David and Goliath sort of thing, he was gone and he picked himself back up again.
“He got heckled coming back into work and he’s shown the best way to quieten people is to go and perform.
“I admire most horses, but everyone loves this horse.
“Every time I’d seen him in Perth he always looked like he was going around on four or five cylinders.
“Now they’re all working and he’s going into the race in fine fettle.”
Despite the narrow defeat in the Caulfield Stakes, Black Heart Bart sits at $31 with TABtouch for the Cox Plate.
Japanese mare Lys Gracieux is an easing $3.60 favourite, having drawn barrier 15.
Mystic Journey ($7) and Castelvecchio ($8) are the only other runners in single figure odds.
Smith said he was adamant Black Heart Bart would improve on the Caulfield Stakes performance and had made a minor change in his training.
“After he won I fell into the trap of being a bit kind,” he said.
“When I saw him before the Caulfield Stakes he just beefed up a bit and I went ‘I’ve made a mistake here’.
“The beach down at Warrnambool at the moment is very good because you can slide up into the heavy sand.
“He’s been able to do a bit of pace work in the heavier part of the track.
“He’ll do a bit of pace work on Thursday morning on the heavier part of the beach and then here we come.”
Meanwhile, Rock Magic and Vital Silver had contrasting fortunes in the barrier draw for the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
Rock Magic drew barrier five, while Vital Silver came up with barrier nine.