Without a Fight completed the rare Caulfield Cup-Melbourne Cup double on Tuesday as star jockey Mark Zahra went back-to-back in the big one after…
The Rosehill carnival got off to a flyer on Golden Slipper day last week, and this weekend features the Tancred Stakes and Vinery Stud Stakes. The races probably haven’t attracted the quality of horse many hoped they would, with many running in Melbourne this weekend or previous, or being saved for The Championships at Randwick over the next two weeks.
The Tancred Stakes is one of the most prestigious Group 1 races on the calendar, one of only two run at 2400m, along with the Caulfield Cup.
This year’s field probably doesn’t have the weight for age credentials of others, a point highlighted by the fact two thirds of the field ran in the Melbourne Cup last year, and will be better suited in the Sydney Cup a fortnight from now.
Gold Trip is the class horse of the race, with his spring form proving that – he won the Melbourne Cup with top weight, finished second in the Caulfield Cup, and was unlucky to be beaten less than three lengths in the Cox Plate. His rivals here could only dream of that CV.
But, Gold Trip is on the back-up after an unflattering performance in the Ranvet last week. It’s been an unusual prep for him, with a gut-busting run first-up before that. If just wanting to back the class, then he’s it.
Montefilia is also on the back-up from the Ranvet, and like Gold Trip, is quickly to 2400m third-up. She is a terrific mare, and was well backed last Saturday in a sign she was sure to run well – and she did run well, but just couldn’t get near the powerhouse performance of Dubai Honour.
Some of Montefilia’s career best runs have come third up, including winning a couple of Group 1s, so she has to be in the game.
You can throw a blanket over many of the rest of the Australian trained horses, all of them decent stayers, but none of them ever appealing as capable of winning a Group 1 weight for age race.
Vow and Declare is one that has proven capable at this kind of level in the past, and has returned in pleasing form this prep. Knight’s Order had a ripper of a spring, and is working up to his best this campaign. Neither would surprise.
Arapaho and Explosive Jack ran the quinella in the Canberra Cup last start, but it’s not normally the sort of form you want coming into a Tancred. But then, this isn’t a vintage year.
Sir Lucan and King Frankel are more lightly raced than most rivals, and this could be the type of race that suits an improver. Sir Lucan and his stablemate Knight’s Order will go forward, and neither will be afraid of making it a true staying test. King Frankel finished last campaign full of running and has returned in good order.
Like Dubai Honour in the Ranvet last week, Cleveland is the international raider that simply has to be respected. His credentials are not as sound as Dubai Honour’s, but Joseph O’Brien rarely gets it wrong when bringing a horse to Australia. But does he just need this run before the Sydney Cup?
The Vinery Stud is arguably the weakest Group 1 race run in Sydney, but this year’s edition seems particularly feeble.
Fireburn won the Golden Slipper and Sires Produce last year, but hasn’t remotely looked like winning a race since, yet is still single figures.
There are two clear favourites at the top of the tree, Prowess and Pavitra, and they will surely fight the race out between them.
Prowess is the New Zealand filly with the big winning streak and high ratings. She beat the older Kiwi mares at Group 1 level last start, including La Crique who we saw tested in the Melbourne spring when jumping favourite in the Myer Classic and going down by only a length.
Before that, Prowess won the Fillies Classic by five lengths. It’s rare that a really good NZ horse doesn’t stack up when they make the trip to Sydney, and even more so in the three-year-old races.
Pavitra is a real iron filly. She had an eight run debut prep in the spring, culminating in a Group 1 second in the VRC Oaks. She took on the older horses first up and ran very respectfully, before taking out the Kembla Grange Classic last time out and bolting in by four lengths.
It was a pretty average field she beat, most of whom are fronting up again here. She’ll need to find a level to beat Prowess.
The rest of the field is lacking in credentials or class.
Soul Choice won the Tassie Oaks against a handful of limited rivals, more than half the field was thumped in the Kembla Grange Classic by Pavitra, and the rest have won maidens or low grade benchmark races.
If there’s one you’d make a case for at longer odds, it would have to be Call Di. She’s put in some good efforts at black type level, and tried to make something happen last start, but she hasn’t really been in a good race she can win yet.
This is Call Di’s first crack at 2000m, and being by Frankel out of Samantha Miss she is impeccably bred to be peaking at this distance and the Oaks beyond it.