The History of the Tancred Stakes
March 24, 2022
A new race was added to the Sydney Turf Club (STC) Autumn Carnival program in 1963. It was called the H. E. Tancred Cup, run over 2400m under weight-for-age conditions. Its name has changed several times in line with sponsor recognition but in 2018 it reverted to the original name of the Tancred Stakes and has now reached its 60th running.
But what is the significance of the original name? The race was in fact named in honour of the STC Chairman Henry Eugene Tancred, an original appointee to the STC Board in 1943 (pictured). Brought on for his strong racing knowledge, Tancred was not afraid to innovate. Appointed Chairman in 1953 when original chair William Hill stepped down, Tancred was believed to be a perfect replacement. He was a tough businessman and instrumental in pushing forward new ideas such as the photo finish camera, mobile starting barriers, and electrical timing devices. As Chairman, he supported the creation of the Golden Slipper, joined the Secretary Leon Lachal in America to explore the idea of night racing, and was keen for the totalisator to take over from on-course bookmakers.
Dual winners of the Tancred
Octagonal and Tie The Knot are the only two horses to win the Tancred twice. Though New Zealand bred, Octagonal made his name in Australia winning 12 Group races across his career and numerous others. His wins included the Canterbury and Rosehill Guineas, the AJC Derby, the Sires Produce Stakes, the Cox Plate, and the Australian Cup. At stud, Octagonal continued his dominance siring many stakes winners including Niello and Lonhro.
Tie The Knot’s racing record has many group successes. He was trained by the late great Warwick Farm trainer Guy Walter. Amongst many other races, Tie The Knot won the Sydney Cup (twice), Rosehill Guineas, Ranvet Stakes (twice) and the Chipping Norton Stakes an astonishing four years running. A feat that was only recently equalled by the great mare Winx.
Racing often runs in families. One of the biggest racing families is that of the Cummings. The family name appears on winning lists throughout the decades. In the Tancred Stakes, three generations of Cummings trainers have won the race. Bart had three wins. First with Natural Trump in 1971, then with Trissaro in 1983 and finally Beau Zam in 1988. In 2013, his son Anthony won with Fiveandahalfstar. Then most recently, grandson, James won with Avilius (GB) in 2019.
The win of Avilius, highlights a trend towards overseas winners as the length of the race attracts those with a flair for staying power. In 1968, Khalekan (GB) was the first overseas horse to win the race. Makybe Diva (GB) added the Tancred to her Group success in 2005. Manighar (FR) won in 2012, Hartnell (GB) 2015 and Almandin (GER) 2018. As an eight-year-old, Almandin is also the oldest horse to win the race.
Makybe Diva was one of only ten mares to win the race. Maidenhead was the first in 1963, the inaugural running of the race. Bright Shadow followed in 1970. A decade later My Blue Denim (NZ) in 1981, Miltak (NZ) in 1994. In the 2000s, Ethereal (NZ) beat Derby winner Universal Prince and then in 2008 Tuesday Joy (NZ) notched up another race win for Gai Waterhouse. In 2014 Silent Achiever (NZ) beat It’s A Dundeel (NZ) into second, Jameka won in 2017 and in 2020, Verry Elleegant (NZ) won by 4.3 lengths.
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