The Cox Plate gained a mighty boost on Tuesday morning when it was announced that popular Kiwi galloper Te Akau Shark is being set for the race.

Owners Te Akau Racing advised on Monday that their multiple Group 1 winner Melody Belle would miss the Cox Plate in favour of the mares-only Empire Rose Stakes at Flemington on November 2 and it was widely expected that Te Akau Shark would run in the $2 million Cantala Stakes on the same day.

But trainer Jamie Richards confirmed that a Tuesday morning meeting involving Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis had resolved that Te Akau Shark was Cox Plate-bound.

“Yes, that’s where we are aiming,” Richards said of the Cox Plate. “David and the owners made that decision this morning. “They want to have a crack at the Cox Plate and so let’s see how we go.”

Te Akau Shark, who is not yet a Group 1 winner but was runner-up last start in the Epsom Handicap, is rated an $11 chance by BetEasy.