Australia: Melbourne Cup Winner Almandin Preps For Championships In Tancred Stakes

by | 03.30.2018 | 9:05am
2016 Melbourne Cup winner Almandin (Steve Hart)

This weekend's Tancred Stakes Day in Sydney represents the last major prep races for The Championships next week. The G1 Tancred Stakes is a critical guide to who will win the G1 Sydney Cup on day two of The Championships, April 13th, and this prep race sees Almandin reunited with his 2016 Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy to take on Gailo Chop, convincing winner of last week's G1 Ranvet Stakes.

The day also features two other major Championships lead-up races: the G1 Vinery Stud Stakes, which provides a good indication of the result of this year's G1 Australian Oaks on April 13th, and the G3 Doncaster Prelude, a prep race for the G1 Doncaster Mile on April 6th.

G1 Tancred Stakes

At 3:30 p.m. Sydney time this Saturday, March 31st (12:30 midnight EDT or 9:30 p.m. PDT on Friday, March 30th), four starters from last Saturday's G1 Ranvet Stakes – Gailo Chop, Single Gaze, Harlem and Ventura Storm – will meet again in the $1.5 million AUD ($1.1 million) Tancred Stakes.

With Almandin, who won the 2016 Melbourne Cup over Heartbreak City and Hartnell, also lining up for the race, it is also shaping up to be a sequel to this year's G1 Australian Cup. A sequel with one significant difference – Almandin will be ridden by Kerrin McEvoy for the first time since the jockey rode him to Melbourne Cup glory nearly two years ago.

As well as a sequel of sorts, the Tancred serves as a prequel to not only the G1 Sydney Cup but also another Championships race the same day the G1 ATC Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the richest weight-for-age race in Australia with a $4 million AUD purse ($3.1 million), on April 13th. As Winx is an odds-on favorite for the Queen Elizabeth and looks unbeatable, most horses will elect to progress to the Sydney Cup.

Gailo Chop's three-length victory over Single Gaze in last week's G1 Ranvet Stakes has made him 13/10 favorite to snatch a Ranvet Stakes-Tancred double for the first time since Silent Achiever in 2014.

Terry Henderson, OTI Racing chief, is upbeat about his stallion's chances against Almandin. “He's running so well and the competition frankly won't be much tougher than what it's been, and everyone seems to think, including me, that he's going to run the 2400m [1½ mile],” says Henderson. “It looks as though it's a race for him to win on Saturday.”

Almandin hasn't posted a win since 2017's listed JRA Trophy, but the Kerrin McEvoy factor creates the tantalizing prospect of their reuniting for a Tancred win. McEvoy is relishing the opportunity. “It's nice to be back on him,” he says. “He's shown he's competitive at weight-for-age when there's no Winx around.”

The bookies are also savoring the chance of the Almandin-McEvoy pairing, giving them 5/2 odds to win behind Gailo Chop. Ranvet Stakes runner-up Single Gaze is third in the line of betting at 6/1.

Almandin is the current favorite in the Sydney Cup at 13/2, and whether he maintains that status over the lesser-ranked Harlem and Single Gaze will depend on his performance this weekend.

G1 Vinery Stud Stakes

Last weekend, Chris Waller Racing set a new world record when the stable's star mare Winx achieved her 17th G1 victory in this year's George Ryder Stakes. New Zealand-born trainer Waller is primed to continue his winning form with Unforgotten in the $500,000 AUD ($385,000) G1 Vinery Stud Stakes. The race, which runs at 4:10 p.m. local time at Rosehill on Saturday, March 31st (1:10 a.m. EDT, or 10:10 p.m. on Friday, March 30th) is the major prep race for the G1 Australian Oaks April 13th.

Winner of the G2 Phar Lap Stakes earlier this month, 3-year-old filly Unforgotten sits atop the odds for this weekend's second G1 feature at 7/2. All eyes will be on Waller's horse after she gave a performance worth remembering against the boys in the Phar Lap Stakes, leveling the playing field with a late surging run to the finish line.

But, even with her great return to form, the Waller-trained filly can expect a tough challenge in the 1¼-mile race from Luvaluva, whose recent G3 Kembla Grange Classic win installed her as outright favorite (5/1 odds) for the Australian Oaks. The 3-year-old New Zealand-bred filly, who also won the 2017 G2 G.H. Mumm Stakes last year, has odds of 4/1 to defeat Waller's Unforgotten this weekend, but would almost certainly fall back as Oaks favorite if she fails.

Racing fans will also have an eye on New Zealand-bred filly Danzdanzdance. After winning the Trigg Construction Maiden in January and placing second in the G2 Electrolux Avondale Guineas at New Zealand's Ellerslie Racecourse last month, she had odds of 15/2 behind Unforgotten and Luvaluva. New Zealand 3-year-old fillies have a great record in The Championships and Danzdanzdance is one to watch for the Australian Oaks.

Another Tancred Stakes Day race that's a key-lead up to The Championships is the G3 Doncaster Prelude, which provides a last chance for horses to qualify for the $3 million AUD ($2.3 million) G1 Doncaster Mile on April 6th at Randwick.

As racing fans count down from Tancred Stakes Day to The Championships, Sky Racing World is hosting a free tournament on April 6th and April 13th, with a free VIP trip to Australia and the Everest at Royal Randwick in October 2018 awarded to the top finisher.

North American fans can watch Tancred Stakes Day unfold live via ADWs such as TVG, TwinSpires, Xpressbet, NYRA Bets, WatchandWager, HPIbet, AmWager, and BetAmerica. The races will also be available for live streaming on TVG, with Sky Racing World providing free expert picks and past performances.

About David Haslett

A former Managing Director of Sportech Racing, David was appointed President and CEO of Sky Racing World in April 2014. The Louisville, Kentucky-based company, a subsidiary of Australian wagering firm Tabcorp, provides Australian, New Zealand, South African and South American racing content for simulcast horse-race wagering to multiple North America-facing ADW brands and race-tracks.

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