The W.S Cox Plate was first run in 1922 and is named in honour of the founder of Moonee Valley, William Samuel Cox.
The weight-for-age race is run over 2,040 metres and has remarkably grown from its 1000 pound purse in 1922 to over $3 million in 2014. It has been strategically placed on the racing calendar between the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups and the winner is in many circles regarded as the best horse in Australasia.
Since its introduction the Cox Plate has always attracted the top horses across Australasia. A quick look at previous winners reveals the quality of the race. Phar Lap, Kingston Town, Octagonal, Sunline and So You Think are just some of the names on the Cox Plate Wall of Champions.
Some of the greatest horses of all time have won the Cox Plate, including Phar Lap, Makybe Diva and Might and Power. There is also an elite group who have won the weight for age championship in consecutive years. Champion horses such as So You Think (2009/10), Northerly (2001/02), Sunline (1999/00) and Phar Lap (1930/31) are all on the list, as is Kingston Town who remains the only horse to win the race three years in succession. They highlight both the quality and status of the race.
The Group 1 Manikato Stakes is run the night before the Cox Plate under lights at Moonee Valley, in what is perhaps the most exciting 24 hours of racing. It is also a weight-for-age event and is the battle of the sprinters run over 1,200 metres.