Cox Plate analysis: 'Winx thrives on pressure'
CHRIS Waller is undaunted by the prospect of Winx facing potentially the smallest Cox Plate field in more than half a century on Saturday, declaring it the perfect scenario for the wonder mare.
As Moonee Valley Racing Club chief executive Michael Browell predicted Winx might be rivalled by only six opponents, Waller suspects the final field will be "seven or eight."
"I'm hearing seven or eight," Waller said.
"When you get a small field like that, you'll get few others jumping in, making up the numbers.
"A field of eight would be perfect.
"Fewer horses get in the way, luck is less of a factor in a small field
"You don't want it to be too small, either. The more pressure, the better.
"That's when Winx is at her best."
Winx will be challenged by Godolphin raider Benbatl, the Caulfield Stakes winner and Cox Plate second favourite, as she chases an historic fourth Cox Plate triumph.
Other confirmed runners are James Cummings-trained Avilius, last season's runner-up Humidor and New Zealand mare Savvy Coup.
Darren Weir is considering a start for Kings Will Dream, while Aidan O'Brien is mulling a run for northern hemisphere three-year-old Rostropovich.
If Rostropovich bids to deliver O'Brien's second win in the race after Adelaide in 2014, he will be ridden by Ryan Moore.
If there are only seven horses, including Winx, it will be the smallest field since Tobin Bronze defeated six opponents in 1967.
There were eight runners last year.
Valley officials this year boosted prizemoney to $5million - with $3million awaiting the winner.
Prizemoney is paid on a sliding scale down to 10th - $75,000 - making the weight-for-age championships one of the most lucrative races in the world.
Winx was $1.25 with Ladbrokes for the Cox Plate ahead of Tuesday's Breakfast With The Best when the final field and barrier draw will be declared.