By Ray Hickson
If Sir Dragonet is going to recapture the form from his stunning Australian debut in the spring, co-trainer Ciaron Maher is convinced it will be in Saturday’s Group 1 $700,000 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill.
The five-year-old’s two start autumn so far has been stop-start with a first-up defeat as favourite in the Group 1 Orr Stakes (1400m) in February on a good track and a midfield finish behind Mugatoo in the All Star Mile on a deteriorating track off a five week break.
He was beaten 10 lengths first-up then 7.5 lengths two weeks ago so the question of how well he's come back has to be asked.
But the Cox Plate winner has conditions Maher describes as ideal as he attempts to upset Addeybb, the world’s best horse in training, and Verry Elleegant though he stopped short of saying the Ranvet is a pivotal race for Sir Dragonet.
“You never say never in the horse game but he is in very good order heading into Saturday,’’ Maher said.
“There was good tempo in the Cox Plate so a strong run 2000m with a bit of cut in the track is ideal.”
Sir Dragonet finished just ahead of Verry Elleegant in the Melbourne Cup and his form can be tied in to Addeybb through his former trainer Aidan O’Brien’s star mare Magical. The pair clashed in the Gold Cup (2012m) at The Curragh in July and Magical ran out a 2.3 length winner.
The mare then met Godolphin’s topliner Ghaiyyath twice for a 1-1 scoreline before finishing third, 2.8 lengths behind Addeybb in the Group 1 Champion Stakes (2004m) at Ascot in October.
Maher said he has seen improvement in Sir Dragonet, $14 with TAB on Thursday, and is happy to dismiss his Moonee Valley effort.
“He was a bit fresh the other day but he pulled up fine and was good through the line. It was a messy race,’’ he said.
“Back to the 2000m with a few more gallops under his belt he will line up in good order.”
The entire holds nominations for the Group 1 Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) where he has 57kg, the Group 1 Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m), with 57.5kg, and the Group 1 Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) during The Star Championships.
The Ranvet also promises to be an important educational tool for Godolphin trainer James Cummings as he has superior wet tracker Colette pointed towards the Schweppes Sydney Cup at this stage of her preparation.
Last year’s Australian Oaks and Golden Eagle winner was narrowly baten by Verry Elleegant in the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) second-up before missing a place behind Toffee Tongue in the Group 3 Sky High Stakes (2000m) two weeks ago.
“She’s had time to recover from that run and her heavy track form speaks for itself,’’ Cummings said.
Colette runs fourth at Rosehill on March 13
“The Sydney Cup remains her goal and this race fits in nicely with that program.”
Cummings threw her in the Ranvet with the promise of getting favourable conditions and at $6 with TAB she’s considered the most likely candidate to spoil the party.
Hugh Bowman, who won the 2007 Ranvet on Desert War, has his first ride on Colette on Saturday.
“The extra week and the rain have given us the opportunity to run Colette on a track that should suit her admirably,” Cummings said.
“We’d expected a much softer track last start and under the circumstances she ran well.”