THEY haven't got their first-choice jockeys on board, but prominent trainers Gai Waterhouse and Darren Weir are both quietly confident their horses can claim a Cox Plate win today at Moonee Valley.
Late yesterday afternoon with TattsBet, Weir's Puissance De Lune was $5 second favourite for Australia's feature weight-for-age event behind Its A Dundeel ($4), with Waterhouse's Fiorente on the third line of betting at $6.50.
Melbourne Cup-winning jockeys Glenn Boss and Damien Oliver were to ride Puissance De Lune and Fiorente respectively in the $3 million Group One, before both were suspended for careless riding.
Oliver copped the 12-meeting ban earlier this month after he was charged with causing interference when winning on Zonza at Caulfield.
Oliver, who has enjoyed Melbourne Cup wins on board Doriemus (1995) and Media Puzzle (2002), got the ride on Fiorente after Waterhouse sacked Nash Rawiller.
Waterhouse, who is chasing her maiden Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup wins with Fiorente, says she has full faith in both the horse and replacement jockey Blake Shinn.
"Damien Oliver rode him in his final practice and he said, 'He just feels fabulous. He's very fit. I wish I was on him'," she told Racing and Sports website yesterday. "Blake's a most accomplished jockey.
"He's a very sharp sort of young chap and I think he will suit the horse right down to the ground."
Ben Melham took the reins of Fiorente from Boss, who was also suspended for 12 meetings following last week's Caulfield Cup.
The Cox Plate will be Melham's last ride for 10 meetings, however, as he has received his own ban for careless riding at Wednesday's Geelong Cup meeting. The suspension takes effect tonight.
Weir backed Puissance De Lune to succeed no matter who was on board.
"We're confident we've got him in the right order," he told Racing and Sports. "He's had a great preparation. He had a mile trial there (at Moonee Valley) ... he's had a lot of work. If he doesn't measure up it won't be because of fitness."
Despite having not raced in four weeks, the Murray Baker-trained It's A Dundeel has remained a firm favourite with bookmakers for the 2040m feature.
Fourth favourite Long John, meanwhile, is attempting to repeat the efforts of Red Anchor - the last three-year-old to complete the Caulfield Guineas-Cox Plate double in the one year, 1984.