Darren Weir makes strong play for WS Cox Plate

NEW STABLE: Guardini returns to scale after winning the Japan Racing Association Plate at Randwick. The import is one of Darren Weir's spring hopefuls.
NEW STABLE: Guardini returns to scale after winning the Japan Racing Association Plate at Randwick. The import is one of Darren Weir's spring hopefuls.

Darren Weir will head into the spring with a 14-strong team of candidates for the $3m WS Cox Plate.

West Australian-owned Black Heart Bart will be attempting to back up in the group 1 weight-for-age championship, 2040m, at Moonee Valley on October 28 after finishing down the track behind Winx in the rae last year.

Black Heart Bart has an imposing record for Weir with five group 1 victories.

Weir’s entries also feature imports and new stable arrivals Gailo Chop, Brave Smash, Guardini and Night’s Watch.

Gailo Chop, which is yet to race for Weir, is also a previous Cox Plate runner.

The seven-year-old finished eighth two years when trained by Antoine de Watrigant, before winning the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington.

Raced by Australian syndicator OTI Racing, Gailo Chop returned to Europe for two starts and has not been to races since March last year.

The French-bred Guardini was previously trained by Lee and Anthony Freedman.

The import has had just the four Australian starts, for a last-start win the group 3 Japan Racing Association Plate at Randwick in April last year.

Night’s Watch is an ex-New Zealander yet to race in Australia.

Brave Smash is a former Japanese middle distance galloper also still waiting to make his first Australian racetrack appearance.

Melbourne Racing Club has also taken nominations for the group 1 $2m Caulfield Guineas, 1600m, and  group 1 $500,000 Thousand Guineas, 1600m, on October 14.

Weir has 26 entries across the two three-year-old classics and Matt Cumani’s Ballarat stable has 12 to complement import Grey Lion’s nomination for the Cox Plate.

Ballarat stable nominations for WS Cox Plate include: 

Amelie’s Star (Darren Weir)

Articus (Darren Weir) 

Big Duke (Darren Weir) 

Black Heart Bart (Darren Weir) 

Brave Smash (Darren Weir) 

Casino Fourteen (Robert Smerdon)

Eureka Street (Robert Smerdon) 

Gailo Chop (Darren Weir) 

Grey Lion (Matt Cumani) 

Guardini (Darren Weir) 

Humidor (Darren Weir)

Jennifer Lynn (Darren Weir) 

Kenedna (Darren Weir) 

Magnolian Wolf (Darren Weir)

Night’s Watch (Darren Weir) 

Raw Impulse (Darren Weir) 

Tosen Stardom (Darren Weir) 

BALLARAT district pacers Petacular and Miss Graceland will lead Victoria’s charge in the Australasian Breeders Crown division for 3yo fillies.

They headline two heats of the classic in Ballarat on Thursday night.

The Michael Stanley-trained and driven Petacular is endeavouring to throw off her group 1 bridesmaid tag for the season in the ABC series, having finished second in the NSW Oaks, Victoria Oaks and Vicbred Super Series final.

Trained by Emma Stewart, Miss Graceland took out the Victoria Oaks.

Starters in the heats are chasing semi-final berths at Bendigo on Saturday, August 19, which leads to a August 27 final at Melton.