Hopes hunting Cox Plate

Fenway could yet represent Lee and Shannon Hope in the Cox Plate, after storming past May’s Dream to clinch the Group 2 “Stock Stakes” (1600m).

In just nine career starts, the Hopes’ four-year-old mare has already claimed the Group 1 “Vinery Stud Stakes” (2000m) in April before adding a Group 2 success at Moonee Valley on Friday night.

Darren Weir’s May’s Dream finished three-quarters of a length second, while Mick Kent’s Scratchy Bottom was close behind in third.

Shannon Hope said Australasia’s greatest weight-for-age championship was in their sights with Fenway, who might return to the Valley for the famous 2040m race without another gallop.

As fate would have it, Fenway’s misfortune in the Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m) took her to the Stocks Stakes.

“The original plan was to look at the Toorak [Handicap] after the Let’s Elope, but didn’t have a hard enough run – so we switched to this path,”Shannon said post-race.

“We’d love to have a Cox Plate runner.

“She seems to handle the Valley.”

Jockey Blake Shinn, Shannon’s step-brother, aided Fenway’s cause after controlling proceedings from barrier two.

“He came out with a game plan, he always said he was going to make them work for the first 300m, make use of the gate. He said, ‘I’ll be rolling from the half-mile’, which he did,” Shannon added of Shinn’s ride.

Shannon has no doubts Fenway can handle the step up in trip, having won the Vinery Stud Stakes third-up in her autumn preparation.

“I think 2000m is her pet distance. I was always concerned about Moonee Valley, it’s a turning track. But it’s a momentum track, and she likes to build momentum,” he said.

Should Fenway fail to make the Cox Plate field, the Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) on Derby Day was the back-up plan.


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