Will the winner of Saturday’s $1.5 million Tancred Stakes, Australia’s leading weight for age (WFA) 2400-metre race, rank among the race’s most famous winners?
Probably not – unless Sir Dragonet can win another Group 1 race in Australia after winning the 2020 Cox Plate.
Some champion WFA horses have won the Tancred Stakes since 1980, when it became a Group 1 race, including Kingston Town (1980), Bonecrusher (1986), Octagonal (1996 and 1997), Might and Power (1998) and Makybe Diva (2005).
But many top horses have bypassed the Tancred Stakes in recent years in preference for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, this year worth $4 million, including the great Winx, who never raced beyond the 2040-metre Cox Plate distance after her three-year-old career.
Missing the race this year is 2020 Tancred Stakes winner Very Elegant, who after beating the highly rated English horse Addeybb in last Saturday’s Ranvet Stakes is being given a three-week break to freshen up for a rematch in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes against. Addeybb thrashed her by 2.8 lengths last year.
Of this year’s Tancred Stakes field there are only two horses rated above 110. They are 2020 Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet 114 and New Zealand champion mare Melody Belle 119.
While the Rosehill track is likely to be rated in the good range by Saturday, I believe that Sir Dragonet is the horse to beat after his solid fourth in the Ranvet Stakes last Saturday when beaten 2.4 lengths, despite not getting his preferred wet track surface.
The reality is that Sir Dragonet has also run some excellent races on good tracks, including a 0.8 length fifth placing in the English Derby behind the ill-fated Anthony Van Dyck, who ran second in the 2020 Caulfield Cup by 0.2 lengths behind Very Elegant.
Sir Dragonet also ran a credible sixth in the 2020 Melbourne Cup on a Good 3 track – just ten days after his Cox Plate win – when coming from 16th at 800 metres to finish 3.45 lengths from the winner after being fourth at 400 metres.
Let us recall why Sir Dragonet did not finish closer in the Melbourne Cup. It has nothing to do with the Good 3 track.
In jockey Glen Boss’s words, “[He] just didn’t step. He just missed it a length which put me at a disadvantage.
“Ideally I would have liked to have been two or three pairs closer. There’ll be people that will say that he didn’t run the trip but unfortunately, at the 1200 (metre mark), when I’m 12 lengths away, I had to do a lot of work just to get myself into a winning position.
“Even if I just came through on the fence, I’m still using carrots up to get to that point. But he ran very well.”
Of the other entries in the Tancred I was also impressed with Angel of Truth’s third place in last week’s Ranvet Stakes when beaten by 1.8 lengths behind Very Elegant after leading most of the race just ahead of Sir Dragonet.
While both Sir Dragonet and Angel of Truth looked outstanding in the mounting yard last Saturday, I expect that more pressure in front in a bigger field will suit Sir Dragonet much better.
There are a few other rough chances, including Melody Belle (untried beyond 2040 metres), Mirage Dancer and The Chosen One, but I am backing Sir Dragonet and hoping that Glen Boss produces one of his best rides to further boost his reputation as a leading big-race rider.
If Sir Dragonet is anywhere near his best Group 1 form, and it looks like he is given his good run behind the highly rated Very Elegant and Addeybb last Saturday, then he will be extremely hard to beat.
Sir Dragonet was backed in from $6.00 to $4.80 by Wednesday evening after the fields were released.
Good luck, punters.