James McDonald has claimed one of the most thrilling Cox Plate titles in history after lunging home on Danny Shum-trained champion Romantic Warrior. In a furious finish down the straight, McDonald's mount surged on the line to win Australasia's weight-for-age championship by a nose.
It was a photo finish, but Romantic Warrior, a Hong Kong product, emerged as the victor by the slimmest of margins, leaving McDonald emotional and grateful for his faith in the horse. This marks McDonald's second consecutive win in the Cox Plate, further solidifying his status as a top jockey.
Trainer Danny Shum expressed his overwhelming happiness after Romantic Warrior's triumph. He thanked all the connections in Australia and Hong Kong for their support and acknowledged the strong performance of his horse. Shum's confidence in Romantic Warrior proved well-founded as the champion displayed immense strength throughout the race.
Meanwhile, veteran jockey Damien Oliver rode in his 22nd and final Cox Plate, finishing in fourth place on outsider Duais. Commentators noted that McDonald's victory marked a changing of the guard, with Oliver's remarkable career coming to an end and McDonald rising to prominence.
The Cox Plate weekend at Moonee Valley also saw Imperatriz claim the $2 million Manikato Stakes with a dominant performance. Led by trainer Mark Walker and jockey Opie Bosson, Imperatriz secured a seventh Group 1 triumph, reinforcing her status as a star Kiwi mare.
Overall, the thrilling Cox Plate victory by James McDonald on Romantic Warrior highlighted the talent and excitement in the world of horse racing. The close finish and emotional reactions from the jockey and trainer added to the spectacle of the prestigious event.