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Joseph O’Brien thrilled by Cox Plate success

Joseph O’Brien admitted he wished he could have been at Moonee Valley to see State Of Rest secure a “huge” triumph in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate on Saturday.

In the face of strict veterinary rules for foreign raiders introduced for the first time this year, State Of Rest was the only European challenger to line up in Australia’s weight-for-age highlight over 10 furlongs.

Partnered by John Allen, State Of Rest was locked in battle with the Godolphin-owned Anamoe in the final furlong of the Group One heat and it appeared the Irish raider had leaned in and given a slight bump to the eventual short-head second.

Anamoe’s rider Craig Williams immediately lodged a protest, but the stewards ultimately opted to let the result stand, meaning O’Brien emulated his father Aidan, who won the Cox Plate with Adelaide in 2014.

The winning trainer was adding to his two Melbourne Cup triumphs with Rekindling (2017) and Twilight Payment (2020) and he paid tribute to a team effort in successfully making the trip with the Teme Valley Racing-owned colt.

Speaking at Leopardstown, he said: “It was fantastic and I’m very proud of everyone, Mark Power and MJ Doran who are down in Australia with the horse and Mark Hackett in the office who organised the trip, transport and paperwork.

“I also have to thank the vets and everyone who organised all the veterinary side, which has been huge.

“It’s been a huge team effort and we were lucky to have keen owners with Richard Ryan, the manager (of Teme Valley), and Jim Cockburn. Johnny Allen also gave him a fantastic ride.

“He’s a very tough horse with a great constitution and that’s why we were willing to give it a go.

“It’s a very prestigious race, I wish I could be there to experience it, and it’s great prize-money. It’s a huge one really.”

Plans are fluid for State Of Rest now, with O’Brien adding: “He has an option in the Mackinnon (Stakes at Flemington on November 6) but we’ll just see how he pulls up.”

Winning rider Allen began his career in Ireland riding over jumps before moving to Australia and he felt the race had worked out “pretty well” for State Of Rest, who was last seen winning the Saratoga Derby in August.

The rider said: “When the gap appeared, I had to ask him to improve quickly before it closed and we might have got there a little too soon. But to his credit when that horse got to me, he really fought and was solid to the line.

“There was a bit of a bump there and I couldn’t celebrate. Thank God we got the win and it’s been a great job by Mark (Power) and the team.

“The way it was going, there were a few anxious moments, but I think the right decision was made.”

State Of Rest takes dramatic Cox Plate for Joseph O’Brien

Joseph O’Brien added another Australian prize to his collection as State Of Rest survived a stewards’ inquiry to claim the Ladbrokes Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.

The trainer has saddled two Melbourne Cup winners in Rekindling (2017) and Twilight Payment (2020) and three-year-old State Of Rest became another notable international success for the team as he fought out a dramatic finish in the 10-furlong Group One.

Partnered by John Allen, State Of Rest was locked in battle with the Godolphin-owned Anamoe in the final furlong and it appeared the Irish raider had leaned in and given a slight bump to the eventual short-head second.

Anamoe’s rider Craig Williams immediately lodged a protest, but the stewards ultimately opted to let the result stand, meaning O’Brien emulated his father Aidan, who won the Cox Plate with Adelaide in 2014.

Mark Power, representing Joseph O’Brien, told www.racing.com: “It’s not good for the heart – I’m absolutely trembling like a leaf.

“Johnny Allen was super, he’s strong as an ox. You couldn’t have a better man on your side.

“Luckily we had Johnny. It’s a relatively new process for me and luckily we came out on the right side of it.”

Allen said the race had worked out “pretty well” for State Of Rest, who was last seen winning the Saratoga Derby in August.

The rider said: “When the gap appeared, I had to ask him to improve quickly before it closed and we might have got there a little too soon. But to his credit when that horse got to me, he really fought and was solid to the line.

“There was a bit of a bump there and I couldn’t celebrate. Thank God we got the win and it’s been a great job by Mark (Power) and the team.

“The way it was going, there were a few anxious moments, but I think the right decision was made.”

Williams was disappointed not to get the result overturned, but feels Anamoe has a big future ahead of him.

“It is our greatest Australian weight-for-age race that we have and Anamoe’s performance as a three-year-old was excellent, he was very game in defeat,” Williams said.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result on the track and because of contact by the winner (State Of Rest) we had good grounds to hopefully overturn the positions in the stewards’ room but we weren’t so fortunate. That’s racing and we move on.

“He is a serious racehorse and for a three-year-old to go so close, he’s a real Australian star in the making. Looking forward to his future starts and unfortunately we ran second today.”