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By Graham Potter | Monday, October 25, 2021

A high intensity, split second decision by jockey John Allen won the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on Saturday.

Allen’s decisive action has been largely lost in the argumentative aftermath of the Cox Plate protest drama, but that doesn’t diminish the telling effect it had on the outcome of the race.

As confirmed in the official steward’s report, ‘passing the 100m, State Of Rest (IRE) shifted in and brushed Anamoe before being straightened by its rider, John Allen, and both horses then raced unimpeded to the line. It was the Stewards' view that had the incident passing the 100m not occurred that State Of Rest (IRE) would have finished in front of Anamoe, so therefore dismissed the objection and correct weight was declared.’

The shift, the brush … that’s what most observers debated post-race … but the most telling point of all, was that after the brief brush, State Of Rest was STRAIGHTENED BY ITS RIDER, JOHN ALLEN.

The replay video clearly shows State Of Rest begin to shift to race on an inward trajectory coming through the 100m mark, with Anamoe hard along his inside … and it also clearly shows Allen put the whip away for a few strides the moment the two horses brushed, so that he could grab hold of State Of Rest and straightened his mount (masterfully doing that without losing momentum), thus ending the inward movement and, in so doing, ensuring any further possible significant interference, which could have unfolded with costly consequences had Allen not reacted the way he did, was avoided.

The fact that Allen’s cool head and absolute awareness of just how fine a line he was walking was able to prevail with both horses going full speed at such a vital stage of the race (Anamoe also never missed a beat) stands to his enormous credit … as does his riding over the concluding stages as both State Of Rest and Anamoe went straight back to business after their brush, fighting out a punishing stride for stride battle to the line.

While we don’t know the conversation that transpired in the protest hearing, it would be fair to assume that Allen held his own well enough there as well against Craig Williams’ argument for the result on the track to be reversed … which is no mean feat in itself.

With Zaaki, the hot favourite for the race, coming out on race-day morning with an elevated temperature and then the all the drama of the dramatic big race finish … there were certainly plenty of talking points.

At the end of the day though, the 2021 Cox Plate provided another stirring contest which can now take its place in the rich history of one of Australia’s greatest races.

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John Allen

Photo: Darren Winningham
John Allen

Photo: Darren Winningham
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