Horse Racing
Melbourne Cup winners take aim at Saturday’s simulcast Tancred Stakes

23/03/2023 12:43

Two Melbourne Cup winners and a visiting two-time Melbourne Cup-winning trainer will bid to win Saturday’s (25 March) Group 1 Tancred Stakes (2400m), which will be simulcast into Hong Kong from Rosehill racecourse in Sydney.

Gold Trip, last year’s Melbourne Cup winner, carries the number one saddlecloth as the highest rated runner in the 12-horse field while 2019 Cup winner Vow And Declare chases just a second win since his famous victory at Flemington.

Young Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien, 29, who won the Melbourne Cup in 2017 and 2020 and who also has the 2021 G1 Cox Plate (2040m) on his Australian resume, will become the first northern hemisphere trainer to win the Tancred Stakes if successful with the sole international runner Cleveland.

Gold Trip, Knights Order and Montefilia were listed as the top three in the Tancred Sakes betting after Wednesday’s (22 March) barrier draw, just ahead of Cleveland with Vow And Declare at double figure odds with his chances weather-dependent and the forecast of rain on Thursday, Friday and Saturday is undesirable for Vow And Declare as his trainer Danny O’Brien concedes.

“It’s a good race. Gold Trip will back up which means we’ve got the two Melbourne Cup winners and I’d give him (Vow And Declare) a huge chance if we get a nice surface but he wouldn’t want too much rain.

“His only previous run in Sydney was in the Queen Elizabeth (2020) on a heavy 8 and he didn’t handle it,” O’Brien said.

Gold Trip, in contrast, relishes soft ground. That prospect and the step up to 2400 metres is expected to yield an improvement on his lack-lustre fifth placing behind William Haggas trained Dubai Honour in last week’s G1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill.

“We thought he would have finished a bit closer last weekend, but to be fair he bumped into a very good horse and if you look at his form, all his best form is at 2400m and beyond,” said Jamie Lovett, director of Australian Bloodstock, which purchased Gold Trip from France.

Stockman, last year’s runner-up, is another who will relish the likelihood of significantly rain-affected ground as seven of his eight wins have come on slow and heavy ground.

“He was good last year and I’m happy to go there again,” said Stockman’s trainer Joe Pride, “I thought his run behind Protagonist (in the Sky High Stakes) on a dry track was very good and it is likely we will have a rain-affected track on Saturday which he likes.’’

Knight’s Order and Montefilia, who finished immediately behind Gold Trip in last year’s G1 Caulfield Cup at 2400 metres, are among the key runners with Montefilia boasting an excellent record third-up at 2400 metres.

Mark Newnham, who takes up a Hong Kong training contract next season, will be represented by King Frankel, who finished just ahead of Stockman and Knights Order in the lead-up G3 Sky High Stakes (2000m).