Joseph O’Brien emulated his famous father, Aidan, by becoming a $5million Group 1 Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) winner as the Irish-bred State Of Rest took Australia by storm on Saturday.
O’Brien Junior, a dual Melbourne Cup conqueror with Rekindling and Twilight Payment respectively, was a rider of 30 Group 1 winners and since his transition to training has noticed up 20 Group 1 successes.
His latest achievement sees him become only the second northern hemisphere handler to claim Australia’s Weight For Age Championship, his mentor having taken the prize with Adelaide in 2014.
This win in the 101st running of the race was an all-Irish affair as State Of Rest was bred at Tinnakill House Stud in County Laois in central Ireland by Dermot Cantillon and Meta Osborne and was ridden by Australian-based County Cork-born rider John Allen.
State Of Rest was settled in midfield in the early part of the contest, but eventually had to come from third-last. Allen soon found space as he moved the Irish raider through the field and got a perfect gap through the centre as they entered the home stretch.
State Of Rest was leading at the top of the straight but was soon chased by Anamoe, who came home along the inside rail. The eventual winner and runner-up battled each other over the final 200 metres of the rain-drenched track.
In a tight finish at Moonee Valley, State Of Rest, a son of Starspangledbanner, and Allen rolled in on the Godolphin-owned three-year Anamoe, whose rider Craig Williams lodged an objection post race.
Despite a nerve-wracking lengthy enquiry, the racecourse stewards stated they were not satisfied that the interference from the horse first past the wire cost the runner-up the win.
The winning margin was just a short-head back to the James Cummings-handled second-placer, who was bidding to become the first Caulfield Guineas winner since Red Anchor in 1984 to win the Cox Plate.
Chris Waller’s reigning Australian Horse Of The Year and multiple Group 1 winner Verry Elleegant was a length back in third under jockey Damian Lane.
Speaking to Racing.com in Australia, Joseph O’Brien’s stable representative Mark Power gave the following reaction to the victory:
“It’s unbelievable. Today is nothing but a true reflection of what it took to get this horse here today. Johnny Allen was super on him. You won’t get stronger inside the last 200m than Johnny there.”
State Of Rest has clocked up the air miles in his short career and has raced in four different countries.
Prior to his Australian success, he took the $1million Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitation on 7 August last and during the summer ran third over a mile at The Curragh, Ireland, on 26 June.
The three-year-old, a 45,000gns Tattersalls weanling, before being sold for 60,000gns at the 2019 Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, now has a race record of three wins, a second and three thirds from nine starts.
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Photos: Moonee Valley Racing Club Twitter account @TheValley