Anamoe was crowned Australia’s latest champion of the turf when he avenged his controversial defeat in last year’s Cox Plate with a thrilling victory at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Global racing and breeding giant Godolphin, trainer James Cummings and star jockey James McDonald all savoured their first wins in the iconic Group 1 feature with the popular $2.40 favourite.
Anamoe had a perfect run in fourth position, burst clear after hitting the lead early in the straight and held off a late run from I’m Thunderstruck to score by a long neck.
I’m Thunderstruck ($10) stormed home from second last on the turn to run second, while international raider El Bodegon ($6.50) was close behind in third for champion WA-born jockey Damien Oliver.
Anamoe joined some of Australia’s all-time greats on the honour roll of the Cox Plate, the same race he ran a close second to State Of Rest in last year and unsuccessfully protested against the winner.
After emulating his late grandfather, the legendary Bart Cummings, James Cummings was in awe of Anamoe’s achievement.
“It’s a humbling experience for me, but I’m just grateful that I can be a part of a horse as great as Anamoe,” Cummings said.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s got me a little lost for words.”
Anamoe claimed his seventh Group 1 win, becoming Godolphin’s most prolific winner at the elite level, in what was his fourth triumph from as many starts this spring.
“The truth is he’s just had a gun preparation, a couple of times it hasn’t been plain sailing but my team have come together in phenomenal fashion to have him arrive in nearly perfect shape,” Cummings said.
“Halfway through the race I couldn’t help but feel very calm about it. There were no surprises, everything went to script and we had the horse in absolutely mint condition to perform.
“The right horses have run second and third so it’s a proper Cox Plate and it’s an absolutely humbling experience to be winning it.”
McDonald, rated one of the world’s best jockeys, admitted he felt the pressure in the lead-up to the $5 million feature.
“I was on a champion today,” McDonald said.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s been a big build-up.
“I can’t believe it, it’s unbelievable.
“I felt the tension, you could cut it with a butter knife. It’s good to get it over with. I don’t know how Hughie Bowman got through it with four of them (on Winx).
“I wanted to build the revs up into the corner. Hence, probably I went a tad earlier than I wanted to but he was always going to sustain that gallop.
“Even though it looked like they were coming out of the pack to get him, he would have dug deep. As you know, this horse, he can find a bit.”
Anamoe is poised to take on the world next year, with Godolphin considering Group 1 features in Dubai and at Royal Ascot.
“That’s a long way away but I’d love to and wouldn’t say no,” McDonald said.
“This horse, I think he’ll get physically even better. It is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Jockey Mark Zahra said I’m Thunderstruck was gallant in defeat.
“He ran super, it was just the winner’s had a plum run from the barrier and we’ve had to get back and weave through,” Zahra said.