Lonhro is an odds-on quote to win the W.S. Cox Plate (Aust-I) on Oct. 25 after easily defending the Oct. 11 Caulfield Stakes (Aust-I).
But his regular partner Darren Beadman seems almost certain to be missing when they attempt to erase their inglorious sixth in last year's Cox.
Beadman was outed until after the Cox meeting for causing interference in the stretch at Caulfield as they cruised to a 1 3/4 length success at 3-5.
Unless he can successfully appeal the severity of the careless riding ban, the jockey will be reduced to watching from the sidelines at Moonee Valley.
In defeating Mummify and Defier in the Caulfield Stakes, Lonhro passed $4 million in earnings, gleaned from 22 wins from 28 starts. It was the eighth group I success for the Bob Ingham-owned son of Octagonal. His elder brother Jack, the head of the Ingham racing empire, died in August.
Despite the probable loss of his first-choice jockey, Lonhro is at 7-10 for the $3 million (Australian funds) Cox, run over 2,040 meters. Damien Oliver, committed to Defier, almost conceded after the Dehere 6-year-old was left more than three lengths in the winner's wake.
Lonhro defied the track bias favoring on-speed horses, Beadman holding him back last of the eight as Platinum Scissors set a modest pace. When the button was pressed it was over quickly. The 2:02.30 was 1.9 seconds beyond the track mark for 2000 meters.
Like the winner, Defier will derive a great deal of benefit from the outing. He was the bravest of seconds to Northerly in last year's Cox.
Lonhro marched into Australia's weight-for-age championship in triumph after downing Sunline in last year's Caulfield Stakes. But it all went horribly wrong when he blundered the start and never threatened.
At five, Lonhro is now at the height of his powers and John Hawkes has timed his preparation more patiently. Cox entry Falbrav opted to head to Santa Anita for the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) and there appears no local horse to cope with Lonhro on the 25th.
A belated Cox win by Lonhro before his summer rest is required before the champion tag gains national acceptance.