It’s A Dundeel had enough against him in Saturday’s Sportingbet Cox Plate without the burden of favouritism. The Murray Baker-trained star inherited top spot in the TAB’s market on the $3 million event following the scratching of Atlantic Jewel just a couple of hours after Tuesday morning’s barrier draw, reports Racing Victoria.

Starting favourite certainly hasn’t been a shortcut to Cox Plate glory in recent years.

Backing the favourite in the Cox Plate was a licence to print money from 1979 to 1990 – when 10 of the 12 winners were sent out public elect – but just five have won since and only two in the past decade (Makybe Diva $2 and So You Think ($1.50).

Six of the other eight winners since 2003 started at double-figure odds.

But It’s A Dundeel has some more disturbing stats against him than the poor record of those in the market.

His biggest problem, from a historical viewpoint, is the minor hoof injury that kept him out of the Caulfield Stakes, thus meaning he hasn’t started since the Underwood Stakes on 21 September  – 35 days before the Cox Plate.

The Form Focus data that helps us with History Says extends back to 1979 and in that time no Cox Plate winner has not previously started in October.

Solvit (1994) and Pinker Pinker (2011) both had their final hit out on 1 October before winning the Cox Plate on the earliest possible date for the race – 22 October.

Better Loosen Up, Dane Ripper, Sunline (twice), Savabeel, Makybe Diva and El Segundo also won off a 21-day break – the longest break between runs for a Cox Plate winner since 1979.

Green Moon, last year’s Cox Plate beaten favourite who like It’s A Dundeel missed a run in the Caulfield Stakes, also hasn’t started since the Underwood Stakes, while international contestants Side Glance and Mull of Killough haven’t run since the Arlington Million on 17 August.

In addition to having to become the first horse to win the Cox Plate from barrier 12 – he drew 13 but moves in one slot with the scratching of Atlantic Jewel – It’s A Dundeel also has to do something only Fields of Omagh has achieved since 1979.

Before the Underwood, the Kiwi’s only other run this campaign was in the Memsie Stakes and only Fields of Omagh, in the year of his first success (2003), has won the Cox Plate at his third run back from a spell.

Rekindled Interest, third placegetter in the 2011 Cox Plate, is the other runner in this year’s race who heads into Saturday with two lead-up runs.

Neither of those were in the Caulfield Stakes, which has been clearly the most popular place to round out preparations for Cox Plate winners in the past 30 years.

Thirteen times since 1979 a horse has won the Cox Plate having had their previous start in the Caulfield Stakes.

The next most productive race is the Turnbull Stakes with five, four Cox Plate winners have backed up from the Caulfield Cup, while the other races to have provided multiple Cox Plate winners are the Caulfield Guineas and Epsom Handicap with three each.

All but two of the 13 who came through the Caulfield Stakes were placed in the 2000m Group 1 at Caulfield, those being among the 25 last-start placegetters to have won the Cox Plate since 1979. Sixteen of those 25 won their final Cox Plate lead-up.

At least It’s A Dundeel won the Underwood Stakes, while Turnbull Stakes champ Happy Trails, The Metropolitan winner Seville and Caulfield Guineas victor Long John are the last-start winners in this year’s race.

Caulfield Stakes minor placegetters Foreteller and Super Cool are among the last-start placegetters in this year’s race with Side Glance, Turnbull Stakes runner-up Puissance de Lune, Craven Plate runner-up Masked Marvel and Shamus Award, third in the Guineas, are the other who logged top-three placings at their most recent outing.

Shamus Award striving to become the first maiden to win the Cox Plate, which was first run in 1922, while Long John is out to become the first Caulfield Guineas winner to win it since Red Anchor in 1984.

If it wasn’t for All Too Hard you’d put the line through Long John. The year after Red Anchor, Drawn ran third in the Cox Plate after winning the Guineas, but the next 13 Guineas winners who contested the Cox Plate all finished unplaced.

All Too Hard righted the ship last year when he was runner-up to Ocean Park after winning the Guineas.

In the past 30 years, 64 male three-year-olds have had a crack at the Cox Plate for four wins. A further six have finished second, while there have been four third placings.

Four-year-olds have the best record in the Cox Plate with 26 wins (five-year-olds have won 22) including the past three. It’s A Dundeel and Super Cool are the four-year-olds in this year’s race.

For those into quirky stats, Happy Trails might be worth a wager. He will carry number two and jump from barrier two, a symmetry that has been shared by the past three winners.

So You Think carried number five and jumped from gate five in 2010, Pinker Pinker was all the 11s in 2011 and Ocean Park was number nine from gate nine last year.