Local horseman Mick Cerchi is tipping a big, improved run from his veteran stayer Tanby when the rising nine-year-old lines up against an in-form field for Thursday’s Bagot Handicap ahead of a possible Adelaide Cup run in the autumn.
Cerchi named the $400,000 Group 2 Adelaide Cup (3200m) in March as a possible long-term goal for Galileo gelding Tanby should the galloper perform as he is expecting him to at Flemington on New Year’s Day in the $150,000 Listed Bagot Handicap (2800m).
“When we first started off [this campaign] we sort of thought we would have him spot-on fit for this race, this is his main race,” the trainer told Racing Victoria.
“But if he’d pulled up really good, hopefully he can do the job, then we can pick another target like the Adelaide Cup.”
One of 14 final acceptors for the January first staying showdown, Tanby is best known for his 2011-12 form when prepared by Robert Hickmott for owner Lloyd Williams.
His achievements that season included wins in the $203,500 Listed Bendigo Cup (2400m), the Listed The Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington the following October and his biggest win to date in the Group 2 Zipping Classic (2400m) at Sandown-Hillside in November two years back.
It has been a long time between drinks for the warhorse then as the Zipping Classic, formerly registered as the Sandown Classic, was his last visit to the winners’ stall.
Since then Tanby’s form has been hit and miss.
While he was in the mix at Group 1 level last March when third to the Mark Kavanagh-trained Super Cool in the Australian Cup (2000m), he has failed to finish in the money since.
Cerchi, who took over the horse’s preparation this spring, however saw a glimmer of his former form last time out in the Listed Werribee Classic (2635m) on December 14.
There jockey Josh Cartwright had the ride and guided Tanby to a smart fourth behind the Peter Moody-trained Cadillac Mountain when beaten only one and a quarter lengths.
The horse had a hefty 58.5kg on his back that day giving four and a half kilos to the winner, and will have that same weight for Thursday with Jamie Mott taking over in the saddle.
“His run in the Werribee Classic last start was good, so we’d be hoping that if he can draw a good barrier he can run well,” Cerchi said.
Cerchi remains unfazed by the hefty weight and believes talented heavyweight hoop Mott will help him turn the tables on Cadillac Mountain in the rematch.
“It really won’t be too much of concern, it should be all pretty good really,” he said of the allocation.
The Werribee Classic winner goes up from 54kg to 56kg in the Bagot Handicap, Reset four-year-old Cadillac Mountain after his third on the trot, and jumps from barrier nine with Stephen Baster aboard.
Tanby meanwhile has a gun barrier three draw, Cerchi hoping he goes back settling off the pace letting the early speedsters do the hard yards in the opening stages of the race.
“Hopefully a couple of the front-runner horses accept and the race has plenty of speed in it, that’s what we want,” he said.
The Bagot Handicap field and weights meanwhile are led by the Darren Weir-trained Hurdy Gurdy Man on 60kg who has the inside run from barrier one with John Allen aboard.
Now seven, Street Cry stallion Hurdy Gurdy Man was second in the race last year with the same weight and comes off a close third when a quarter-length off Cadillac Mountain in the Werribee Classic.
Runner-up in that race Averau is another notable hope for Thursday, the in-form mare staying on the 54kg minimum but with work to do from the outside barrier of 14.
Other top Bagot Handicap chances this summer include Paul Jones’s Ararat Cup – Ballarat Cup double winner Mujadale and the flying Danny O’Brien-trained four-year-old De Little Engine after his fourth straight win.
The the final acceptances are: Distillation, Halayr Jet, Auberge, Great Lane, Martinvast, Falamonte, Rednav and Dominant Manner with the race to run as Flemington Race 7 at 5:00pm (AEDT).