It may be timely to republish my WEEKEND WISDOM from last year's BMW card at Rosehill. Note that Preferment has also remained WINLESS subsequent to his 2016 triumph. Jameka has a cross to bear!
At the dawn of the new millennium, high hopes were cherished for the continued excellence and pre-eminence of the Tancred Stakes, Australia’s mile-and-a-half classic at WFA.
Mercedes had just presided over an unprecedented run of elite Tancred winners; Might and Power sandwiched by back-to-back Octagonal and Tie The Knot.
It was the shock victory of Curata Storm in 2001, using a Hawkesbury “B” grass Class One as a stepping stone to infamy, that signalled the commencement of decay.
Tie The Knot at 8/13 was a floundering 4th.
And the perversity of the turf would see Curata Storm fail to place in 20 subsequent outings.
Exit Mercedes, hello again BMW. Cups darlings Ethereal and Makybe Diva bookended victories by the undistinguished Freemason and Grand Zulu.
Since then journeymen such as Blutigeroo and Cedarberg have raised barely an eyebrow as the once proud classic continues its decline.
Clearly the final nail was the elevation of the Queen Liz in 2014 from half a million to 4 million, together with the pruning of three-quarters of a million from the Tancred purse.
Amazingly, the past five Tancred winners have failed to win since. Cedarberg 0/2, Manighar 0/17, Fiveandahalfstar 0/4, Silent Achiever 0/11 and Hartnell 0/6.
Curata Storm has company.
And Hartnell’s odds-on defeat in last year’s Sydney Cup takes on a new meaning.
Saturday’s Tancred renewal certainly provided thrilling theatre, while the purposeful victory by triple-major Preferment appears to have a credibility-restoring aspect.
However, it may be notable that Preferment went to the start winless in 6 group one appearances away from Flemington.
The Waller juggernaut cracked the nut with a sledgehammer trifecta, five previous years offering a Beaten Up 3rd, albeit with limited market presence.
Clearly observable was the conveyor-belt that supplied the placings together with the strung-up/shuffled-back of the junior and the mare.
And the early thrusting indicator of a now ready-to-fire Storm The Stars.
Saturday’s Storm Queen (Vinery) culminated with a fairytale aura.
Single Gaze debuted at Rosehill back in November 2014, jumped at $230 on the exchange, and was last standing as firstly Exosphere, then Counterattack, folded in front of her.
Her last-to-first victory was visually impressive, but clearly a product of an excessive early tempo bringing her fancied rivals unstuck.
In 9 subsequent runs she adopted what became a customary rearward position, loitering near the back, often running home into a place past tiring rivals.
They were valuable placings; Magic Millions 2yo, Black Opal, Magic Millions 3yo. But her racing style is just the kind sophisticated players love to oppose.
Single Gaze returned to Sydney this Autumn in the Surround Stakes with new purpose and a different approach. She settled OUTSIDE THE LEAD.
Welcome, lady, to the world where winningness is constructed, by participating in a race.
She has gone on to breakthrough in the Keith Nolan and defy them in the Storm Queen, racing one-out-one-back each time.
Enough of the victor, the race itself requires some commentary.
The Storm Queen is one of 7 majors set aside for 3yo fillies. Way too many, in my opinion, for the collective worth of the cohort.
However, Saturday’s group one stands alone for simple lack of a lead-up race.
The concept of a Grand Final/Group One is one of culmination.
The Flight is preceded by the Tea Rose, 1000 Guineas by the Prelude, VRC Oaks by the Wakeful, Australian Oaks by the Storm Queen, Australasian Oaks by the Auraria, and the Queensland Oaks by the Doomben Roses.
The Storm Queen, in the past 14 runnings, has been won 4 times from the Coolmore beaten brigade, and 4 times via the Kembla race, a Group 3 conducted at a provincial racecourse.
This is an ill-fit, rendering this particular major dubious.
Special Harmony failed to place in 7 subsequent runs. Hollow Bullet, 11 unplaced runs post Storm Queen. Serenade Rose annexed the Oaks thence one 3rd in her last 5 runs. Miss Finland won the Memsie first up in her following campaign then winless in 8 appearances. Faint Perfume failed to place in 8 four-year-old appearances.
Even Mosheen, despite having beaten the males in the Randwick Guineas prior to her Storm Queen win, succumbed to the curse, seriously underperforming in 4 runs the following Spring.
But best of all, Mirjulisa Lass, winning from a midweek 3rd, failing to place again in 16 further career starts.
The Ansett sponsorship from 1992-2001 certainly left this race a legacy.
The Rosehill component of our Autumn carnival has concluded with the focus upon Randwick for the next three Saturdays. This poses the obvious question; how will the Rosehill form translate when tested in the coming weeks?
Last Saturday’s rail position of 5m seemed to offer some advantage to those close to the pace, with the inside lane performing solidly throughout the programme.
The fact of a significantly wide rail will encourage me to oppose many at their subsequent start who I perceive to have been assisted to some degree. However, it may be argued that a “box-seat” run, i.e. 3rd on the fence is not always advantageous when the rails is fair.
I would often observe Nash Rawiller in such a position, hang well back from the leader in front of him, as far as possible. The conclusion I drew from this was that he was endeavouring to provide opportunity to build the horse’s momentum before seeking the desired split when making his run.
Valley Girl in the Storm Queen found herself box-seating after a positive start from jockey Prebble. The gentle tempo of the race caused the development of a “sprint home”, and Valley Girl’s amalgam of a distance drop from her last start and having to await the opening of a run rendered her box-seat position decidedly vexatious.
Another in-running position offering scant succour was the death-seat, its most notable occupant the fading Solicit. Her stablemate Angel’s Beach, likewise, covered herself in shame after sitting outside the lead. Man of Choice swapped photogenia for ambulance accompaniment.
I have previously extolled the virtue of Storm The Stars. Entirely Platinum, the only runner tried to beat red-hot It’s Somewhat, earns an honourable mention. Run of the day is awarded to the gallant Cosmic Cube, only 2nd-up with bright prospects for the preparation ahead.
And the flashing-light performance of 66/1 chance Obscura in the Ballieu casts grave aspersions on her rivals. The form from race 2 is the “debris of the day”.