Yesterday John Singleton was furious when he found out that his champion mare More Joyous will run in gate 11 this weekend in the Cox Plate.
He wanted an inside barrier and said he was gutted when trainer Gai Waterhouse deliberately chose gate 11 instead. “I instructed my racing manager Duncan Grimley to tell Gai to get barrier 4 to 6 if possible. Gai didn't need to pick that barrier, it's absolutely ridiculous, no one in the world thinks this is a good barrier."
Waterhouse had all 14 barriers to choose from and surprised everyone when she selected 11. "I love Gai but this is bloody madness," Singleton said. "If this was a normal race and not the Cox Plate, the horse would be scratched and the trainer sacked.”
Waterhouse defended her decision and thinks the field will string out and barrier 11 gives the mare more room to move. "When I spoke to Duncan, I said I'd sooner go out than in, I didn't want her to be locked away on the fence. The dye is cast now and we have got the barrier that last year's winner (Pinker Pinker) came out of."
But Singleton doesn’t agree and is fuming.. "This isn't death, it is suicide," he said "It will be almost impossible for her to win now - the bookies aren't idiots, she is out to $13 and will probably end up $20 on race day. I'm absolutely gutted - I doubt I'll even bother going now."
Singleton pointed out there have only been 5 winners who started from barrier 11 in the 70 year history of the Cox Plate. But the punters don’t seem to mind because More Joyous has been one of the best-backed runners after the barrier draw was announced, with the mare firming from $13 to $11 last night.
Last year’s Cox Plate winner Pinker Pinker was ridden by Craig Williams. This year he’s decided not to go with the favourite Pierro but will ride second favourite, Green Moon instead. "If I wanted to go to war with a horse, I'd go to war with Green Moon," he said when the stallion drew barrier 5. "I've done all the work on Green Moon….and I’ve never ridden Pierro.”
Waterhouse has three horses running this weekend - More Joyous, Pierro and Proisir. As of last night, Pierro remained the $4 favourite ahead of Green Moon ($4.80), Ocean Park ($5.50), Proisir ($9) and All Too Hard ($9.50).
But today all is forgiven when Waterhouse described Singo’s dummy spit as a “lover’s tiff” and said “We’ve been texting each other overnight, when he gets cross, it’s best not to ring him.”