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Tagaloa can emulate the unique achievement of the legendary Manikato by winning the Group 1 $500,000 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield tomorrow.
Manikato, the Hall of Fame sprinter, won the 1978 Blue Diamond at Caulfield and returned a few months later as a spring three-year-old to defeat the older horses in the Rupert Clarke (then Marlboro Cup).
Tagaloa won the Blue Diamond this year and will line up in the Group 1 handicap sprint as one of the favourites.
Exceed And Excel (2003) is the last three-year-old to win the race. Just four of that age group have since taken up the challenge against the older horses — Alinghi and Charge Forward in 2004, Murtajill (2007) and Smart Missile (2011) — but all came up short.
Timeform ratings guru Gary Crispe of Racing And Sports said Tagaloa rated 117 winning the Blue Diamond and had backed that up with good efforts in the Todman Stakes, Golden Slipper and first-up in the McNeil Stakes.
“All of those runs have been at 1200m and suggested that 1400m and 1600m will not only be within range but a bonus,’’ he said.
“I also noted the run of fellow three-year-old Glenfiddich, who finished third to Behemoth in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes, adding more merit to Tagaloa’s chances.’’
Tagaloa and Glenfiddich met three times last season, the former finishing in front every time, including his Blue Diamond win.
Crispe said Tagaloa always looked like he would be better as a three-year-old, even winning the Blue Diamond, a championship race for twoyear-olds.
“I always felt that win was a bonus on the way to better things as he got older,’’ Crispe said.
“He did enough first-up in the McNeil in a stop-start tempo that was hardly ideal for him. It should be different on Saturday with a big field contesting a 1400m Group 1 handicap around the tightturning Caulfield track.’’
Behemoth won the Memsie Stakes last start and has topweight of 60kg for his attempt at a Group 1 double in the Rupert Clarke Stakes.
Article taken from Daily Telegraph, published Friday 18th September 2020, Author, Ray Thomas, Page 41.