Adelaide went a long way to exorcising the demons of 2008 with a memorable win in the $3 million Sportingbet Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.
The star colt, a three-year-old by Northern Hemisphere time, provided champion Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien and superstar English jockey Ryan Moore with victory at their first try in the 2040-metre Group 1.
Adelaide was O’Brien’s first runner in Australia since the 2008 Melbourne Cup, when his three starters finished among the tail after setting a frantic tempo on the pace, and overcame a torrid run to score.
He defeated Fawkner and Silent Achiever in one of the most thrilling finishes in the history of Australia’s weight-for-age championship with just three quarters of a length separating the first six horses over the line.
“We had a lucky day,” Tom Magnier, representing winning owners Coolmore Stud, said.
“I’d just like thank all the team at Ballydoyle and Coolmore and everybody at Moonee Valley and in Australia for making it as easy as it could be to get here.”
One of 10 Northern Hemisphere gallopers issued official invitations, Adelaide became the first internationally-trained runner to win the Cox Plate when he continued his fairytale year that has seen him contest races in five different countries in just eight starts.
Few of his efforts have been as good as what he produced at Moonee Valley. Moore set off on a three-wide move from just before the halfway point of the race and while he had cover for around 250m, he was peeled six-wide from the 600m to continue his run.
Adelaide had Fawkner, who scrambled at the start but still managed to find a good spot just behind the speed one off the fence, to run down when the $4.40 favourite loomed as the winner at the 200m but reeled him in the final 50m.
At the line Adelaide, who started $8, held a short-neck winning margin with Silent Achiever ($26) running the best race of her campaign to finish just a half-head back third.
Side Glance ($21) was just a head back fourth, a short-head clear of Foreteller ($31), who encountered a costly check at the 150m, with Happy Trails ($122) just a further nose away sixth.
Crowd favourite The Cleaner, who led and ramped things up from the 800m, which contributed to the near-track-record time of 2:03.76, only weakened in the final 75m and finished up in ninth position.
Moore was full of praise for the son of Galileo and was thrilled to etch his name onto one of the most prestigious honour rolls in Australian racing.
“Usually the best horse wins, but the best horse sometimes has to do a bit tougher,” Moore said of his tough run. “Things were against him but he still got the job done.
“This is probably the most important weight-for-age race in Australia and this horse has shown what a good colt he is. He’s been around the world this year and come down here and rounded it off.”