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Ratings Expert Gary Crispe Tells Ray Thomas This Year’s Cox Plate Winner Can Pull Off A Rare Big-Race Double.
Sir Dragonet can join an elite list of legendary champions if he can complete the Cox Plate-Melbourne Cup double at Flemington on Tuesday.
Only five horses have won the both races in the same year — Phar Lap, Makybe Diva, Rising Fast, Saintly and Nightmarch.
This demonstrates how difficult it is to win the double but ratings expert Gary Crispe of Racing And Sports believes former Irish stayer Sir Dragonet has the ability to achieve the rare feat.
Sir Dragonet, formerly trained by Aidan O'Brien in Ireland, has joined the Ciaron Maher (pictured, below) and David Eustace stable and won the Cox Plate impressively at his Australian race debut.
"The Cox Plate has proved to be a solid form reference for the Melbourne Cup and a repeat of his new peak 123 Timeform rating, up two pounds from his best Irish/UK Form, means he is a definite winning prospect,'' Crispe said.
"On raw figures he is the highest rated prospect on weight adjusted ratings but the two queries with him are a firmer track and the 3200m.
"There is no doubt his best form is on tracks with some give and the Cox Plate surface proved ideal for Sir Dragonet in that regard. However, concerns over his ability to handle 3200m may not be such an issue.
"After all, he ran to a Timeform rating of 119 as a late three-year-old when fourth in the St Leger over 2922m behind Logician on good ground at Doncaster.
"Incidentally, two lengths behind him on that occasion was Il Paradiso, who was narrowly defeated in last year's Melbourne Cup.
"I thought Sir Dragonet was outstanding winning a low-rating Cox Plate, but the manner of the win suggests he may have a little more to give.
"Whether that improvement comes this afternoon is the issue for punters but there is no denying his class for a big handicap race like the Melbourne Cup.''
Crispe said it was also worth noting that Sir Dragonet started favourite in Anthony Van Dyck's Epsom Derby when beaten under a length into second placing.
"Sir Dragonet meets Anthony Van Dyck a hefty 3kg better in the Melbourne Cup, adding further claims to his winning prospects,'' he said.
In recent years, northern hemisphere-bred three-year-olds have excelled in the Melbourne Cup. Rekindling (2017) and Cross Counter (2018) won in successive years before Il Paradiso (2019) was a very unlucky third.
That is one of the reasons Crispe rates the Aidan O'Brien-trained Tiger Moth as the main danger to former stablemate Sir Dragonet.
"While Tiger Moth still has some to find on Timeform's weightadjusted ratings, Tiger Moth comes into the Cup as a lightly-raced Galileo colt, a veteran of just four starts to date, who demolished a Group 3 line up of older runners last start,'' Crispe said.
"Tiger Moth ran to a Timeform rating of 120 and it came after he ran a close second to Santiago in the Irish Derby.
"This is solid form and Tiger Moth's rating is identical to the figure Il Paradiso took into the race last year, but between Rekindling's 118 in 2017 or Cross Counter's 124 in 2018.
"But, significantly, Tiger Moth is a rapid improver who was rehandicapped to carry just 52.5kg following his last win. Clearly, he has more to give and that expected improvement has been built into his predictive rating for the Melbourne Cup.''
Crispe said O'Brien's other runner, Anthony Van Dyck, is a big winning chance after his close second to Verry Elleegant in the Caulfield Cup.
"Anthony Van Dyck returned a Timeform rating of 127 at Caulfield, up a pound to a new peak from his best UK form, but he will need to run to that level and some to get into the frame,'' Crispe said.
"But his second in the Caulfield Cup was terrific coming from well back just before the home turn and charging home late, just failing to reel in Verry Elleegant when beaten a head.
"It was a great Melbourne Cup trial but the biggest hurdle for Anthony Van Dyck is the 58.5kg. The last winner to shoulder this weight was Thing Big in 1975 but in the modern era of the Cup, topweights have found it hard to be competitive.''
The Danny O'Brien-trained Russian Camelot announced himself as a Melbourne Cup prospect earlier this year when he dominated his rivals in the South Australian Derby, returning a Timeform rating of 122 which was the first time the Adelaide classic had outrated the ATC Australian Derby and Victoria Derby.
Crispe said Russian Camelot had developed into a weight-for-age performer this spring, winning the Group 1 Underwood Stakes before his second placing in the Caulfield Stakes and last-start third in Sir Dragonet's Cox Plate.
"Russian Camelot is already rated a better horse than the stable's 2019 winner Vow And Declare (119) and a rating of 124 puts him in something of a sweet spot for northern hemisphere-bred three-year-olds, looking at recent history of the race,'' he said.
Article taken from Daily Telegraph, published Tuesday 3rd November 2020, Author, Ray Thomas, Page 68.