10/22/2008 12:00AM

Princess Coup heads Cox Plate


Princess Coup, the two-time winner of New Zealand’s only million-dollar race, the Kelt Capital Stakes, will be the favorite in one of Australia’s most important contests on Saturday, the $2.7 million Cox Plate, a 1 1/4-mile Group 1 contest at Moonee Valley in Melbourne.

Trained in New Zealand by Mark Walker, Princess Coup is a 5-year-old Australian-bred daughter of Encosta de Lago (also the sire of champion Hong Kong sprinter Sacred Kingdom). She won her second $1.2 million Kelt Capital going 1 1/4 miles at Hastings on Oct. 4. Winner of the 2007 New Zealand Oaks, Princess Coup will be ridden by Opie Bosson.

Although the race is open to males, the second favorite in the Cox Plate will be the accomplished 3-year-old filly Samantha Miss. Trained by Kris Lees, she has won her last five outings, including the Group 1 Flight Stakes, but she faces a tough task, as this will be her first start against older horses as well as her initial try beyond a mile.

* On Wednesday, the Luca Cumani-trained Bauer earned a spot in the Nov. 4 Melbourne Cup with a handy score in the 1 1/2-mile Group 3 Geelong Cup at Geelong Racecourse. A 5-year-old son of Halling, Bauer was winning for the first time since taking a 1 5/8-mile listed handicap at Chester in England in September 2007. He will join the Cumani-trained Mad Rush in the two-mile Melbourne Cup. An unlucky fourth to Godolphin’s All the Good in last Saturday’s Caulfield Cup, Mad Rush is Ladbrokes 4-1 favorite for the “race that stops a nation,” for which the Aidan O’Brien-trained Septimus is 5-1, defending titleholder Efficient 8-1, All the Good 12-1, and Bauer 16-1.