Cox Plate: Back or lay WINX at evens?

As the Spring Carnival begins to warm up, we asked the 12Follow form analysts how to tackle Winx in the Cox Plate.

12Follow’s Matt Taylor discusses Winx with Darren Potter and John Walter.

HORSE racing is a game of inches and opinions – and there’s little that divides punters more than a short-priced favourite.

One horse which fits that bill each time she steps out onto the racetrack is Chris Waller’s wonder-mare Winx.

While few question her winning credentials at each run, whether or not punters are willing to step into the short odds is another matter altogether.

After winning the Group 1 George Main Stakes at $1.10 on Saturday, Winx was wound in to $2.00 in futures markets for this year’s Cox Plate.

The price is a gift to some and poison to others. It has also divided two of 12Follow’s foremost form experts, Darren Potter and John Walter.

Melbourne-based professional punter Potter believes it would take a very brave punter to take even money in an all-in market six weeks out from the Cox Plate.

“There’s just no value there,” Potter said.

“These markets are set at 170%, so you’re taking even money about a $2.80-$3 shot.

“What happens if you took that price now and suddenly she draws the outside gate and the fence is on fire come race day.

“Assuming she even makes it to the Cox Plate without a mishap, I’m certain you’ll get a better price on the day. There are too many variables for me to bet now.”

But Potter’s Sydney-based colleague John Walter took a different stance, arguing that Winx’s superior ability should see her overcome most obstacles – including her less talented rivals.

“The only horse that could beat her at the moment is Hartnell,” Walter said.

“But he is just as likely to be cooked by then and lose by ten lengths. Besides that, I doubt the stable will even go down that path again this year.

“She is just a superior horse in every facet. Don’t let Saturday’s 1.3 length winning margin fool you – she was trucking and came from last in what was essentially a barrier trial.

“She should win the Cox Plate again next year.”

So would our punters take the $2 on offer right now or lay at that price instead.

Currently, the Betfair market is 148% on the back side and you can take $2.28, or you could lay her on the other side at $2.50,” Potter said.

“If I had to do one or the other I would lay her at those prices. That said, if everything goes right, on the day she will probably be odds on.”

Walter disagreed, but on one proviso: “I’m not huge on taking these early prices now either but if my life depended on it, I’d back her,” he said.

“All things being equal, she’ll win.”