Fresh from capturing Sydney’s two biggest races of the spring, jockey Kerrin McEvoy is setting his sights on winning the only leg of the sport’s grand slam to elude him.
The Melbourne and Caulfield Cups, Cox Plate and Golden Slipper are considered the jewels in the crown of Australian racing.
Only seven jockeys have won them all and Damien Oliver is the only member of that coveted club still riding.
McEvoy has won three Melbourne Cups, a Golden Slipper on Sepoy and a Caulfield Cup on All Too Hard and he needs a Cox Plate to complete his set.
The hoop has been in superb touch in Sydney, breaking his hoodoo in Randwick’s big mile races with an Epsom Handicap victory on Probabeel before a barnstorming win in The Everest aboard popular grey Classique Legend.
He reunites with Probabeel in Saturday’s Moonee Valley showpiece, the New Zealand mare treading the same path to the 2040m race as Winx did at the same age.
Winx won the 2015 Epsom as a four-year-old before racing away with the first of her record quartet of Cox Plates.
McEvoy grew up in an era when the race firmly established itself as the weight-for-age championship of Australia through the heroics of horses like Better Loosen Up and Super Impose.
Those greats of the turf were the inspiration for McEvoy’s desire to win the race as a jockey.
“Better Loosen Up was one of my favourite horses growing up so to see him and Super Impose, those sort of horses, winning it as a young kid, it really does grab your attention,” McEvoy said.
“It’s a quality Group One race and everyone wants it on the list if they can.
“For me, it’s the last grand slam one to tick off so it would be a real treat.”
McEvoy’s chances of adding the Cox Plate to his resume could hinge on Melbourne’s weather.
Probabeel’s best form is on dry tracks so the jockey is hoping the predicted rain does not eventuate.
Not only is the mare better on firmer footing, she has drawn barrier two, a gate McEvoy fears could be a negative if the track is wet.
“If it comes up a (soft) five or six I think she will handle that. Just fingers crossed we don’t get too much rain,” McEvoy said.
“You’ve got to be a tiny bit worried if the rain does come and we’ve got barrier two. We know what the Valley can be like when there’s rain around.”
Cox Plate day could be the start of a fruitful Victorian sojourn for McEvoy.
He is booked to ride favourite Tiger Moth in the Melbourne Cup along with Probabeel’s stablemate Melody Belle in the Mackinnon Stakes and Mystic Journey in the Empire Rose Stakes.