Jockey Kerrin McEvoy will chase a maiden win in the Group 1 $1.5 million KIA Tancred Stakes (2400m) on Saturday jumping back in the saddle of former Melbourne Cup winner Almandin.
One of two Liam Howley-trained entries for the powerhouse Lloyd Williams’ operation in this year’s Tancred Stakes, Monsun eight-year-old Almandin will reunite with McEvoy for the first time since the duo combined to take out the Group 1 $6.2 million Melbourne Cup (3200m) in November of 2016.
Lightly-raced since, Almandin has had just the one subsequent win when carting 61kg to victory by nearly three lengths last September at Flemington in the Listed $120,000 JRA Trophy (2500m).
The horse failed in his title defence in last year’s Melbourne Cup placing 12th behind his now stablemate Rekindling before a Group 2 $300,000 Zipping Classic (2400m) second to the also Williams-raced The Taj Mahal.
This campaign Almandin has had two eye-catching runs, the latest of which produced a fourth when one and a half-lengths off the upset Lindsay Park-trained winner Harlem in the Group 1 $1.5 million Australian Cup (2000m) on Super Saturday.
The Australian Cup has produced the past two Tancred Stakes winners with Preferment doing the double in 2016 and the class mare Jameka improving on a lead-up second to salute on a Heavy (9) Rosehill track last Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Almandin will be out to frank the form again, but history shows no horse has won the Tancred Stakes off a lead-up worse than second since Cedarberg ran seventh in the Australian Cup in 2011.
The aforementioned The Taj Mahal is the other Howley-trained Tancred Stakes nominee this weekend after the Galileo four-year-old was scratched from last weekend’s Group 1 $700,000 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) due to a wet Rosehill Gardens track.
Current all-in Tancred Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.com.au lists Almandin as the $3.50 second favourite behind the Darren Weir-trained Gailo Chop ($2.30).
Gailo Chop could be on the quick back-up after the flying seven-year-old’s impressive three length win in last Saturday’s Ranvet Stakes.
The two early favourites in the Tancred Stakes odds will both be out to break a hoodoo for older gallopers with no horse older than six winning the race in over 30 years.
Another confirmed Tancred Stakes jockey for the weekend meanwhile is Hugh Bowman of Winx fame, the ace hoop looking for his third straight win in the race and fourth overall having also won in 2013 aboard then three-year-old Fiveandahalfstar.
Bowman partners the Chris Waller-trained veteran nine-year-old Who Shot Thebarman, the proven two miler heading towards a fifth shot at the Group 1 $2 million Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) on April 14.
Final HE Tancred Stakes acceptances close at 9:00am (AEDT) on Wednesday.