ONE of racing's burning questions will be answered at Moonee Valley on Saturday if talented mare Winx can become the first horse in 26 years to win the world's richest weight-for-age race - the $3million Group 1 WS Cox Plate - from the inside alley.
Those who have witnessed the mare's finishing bursts at her last four wins, including the QTC Oaks and Epsom Handicap, feel the Chris Waller four-year-old may be something well above the ordinary.
But she will face a serious character test on Saturday against a world-class field of seasoned gallopers.
The pace will be on in earnest from the 800m mark on the tight, turning track.
The official barrier draw worked out well for a number of highly fancied runners, including Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien's high-class galloper Highland Reel ($5.50), who will come out of gate four for international jockey Ryan Moore.
Often maligned by Australian punters, Moore pulled off an amazing ride to win last year's Cox Plate on the O'Brien-trained Adelaide.
Meanwhile Glen Boss's unfortunate barrier draw luck continued with Waller's other runner - the strongly fancied Kermadec ($7), which is planted out in barrier 10.
Boss copped a roasting for his ride on Royal Descent in the Caulfield Cup when she raced three wide and faded to finish last.
Having won three Cox Plates, Boss was not deterred by the difficult alley.
"He's a big strong horse," he said after riding Kermadec in work at the Valley. "From what I felt, he likes the surface but it's going to be a hell of a race."
A perfect draw in gate two means The Cleaner will set the Cox Plate pace, adopting a role he loves and which will hopefully set the race up for a thrilling finish.
World-class hoop Joe Moreira will fly into Melbourne to ride potential knockout outsider Complacent ($21) for the Godolphin stable.
Complacent caused a major boilover when he upset Cox Plate fancy Kermadec and Royal Descent in an all-the-way win in the Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Randwick at $41 last month.
He franked that form by beating Hauraki in the Group Three Craven Plate (2000m) at Randwick on October 3.
Moreira's booking will entice punters to throw him in their multiples in a Cox Plate field rated the most open for more than a decade.
Imported galloper Arod, to be ridden by Craig Williams, is being kept very safe at $9.