Big comparison awaits Running Tall


Comparisons with Vain have been the domain of Black Caviar so far this season, but Running Tall will be spoken of in the same breath as the legendary sprinter if he wins Saturday’s $400,000 Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) at Randwick.

The Danny O'Brien-trained colt is striving to become the first two-year-old to complete the VRC Sires' Produce Stakes-Champagne Stakes double since the Hall of Famer. While 21 horses have pulled off the double, Vain was the most recent, in 1969.

It's a daunting statistic, but one O'Brien is confident he can overcome with the classy colt, who made himself eligible for the double when he thrashed his rivals in the 1400m Flemington Group 2 on March 12.

“It hasn't been done for a while, but hopefully it can be done again this weekend,” Flemington-based O'Brien said.

“He's really thrived since he's been up there (in Sydney), so he's still in great shape and I think he'll really appreciate the 1600.”

Running Tall remained in Sydney after running 11th – beaten 6.7 lengths – behind Sepoy in the 1200m Golden Slipper on April 2. He also chased home Peter Snowden's champion juvenile when seventh in the $1 million Blue Diamond Stakes on February 26.

The Slipper has been his only outing since thrashing his VRC Sires Produce win and O'Brien said the son of Stratum would have been much better suited in the following week's AJC Sires' Produce Stakes (1400m).

“He just found coming back from the 1400 of the (VRC) Sires against him,” O'Brien said. “He was looking for 1400 in the Slipper and it all happened too quick for him.

“In hindsight we probably should have just waited and gone to the (AJC) Sires and then the Champagne, but the Slipper was very tempting.

“He's had three weeks between runs and now up to the mile, I think there are enough positives for him for Saturday.”

Running Tall is the lone Victorian entry for the Champagne Stakes, which is one of four Group 1s on a huge day to end the Sydney Carnival.

AJC Sires winner Helmet – a late scratching from the VRC Sires when a short-priced favourite – is among them, along with AJC Sires placegetters Uate and Pane In The Glass and untapped Bart Cummings-trained Pago Pago Stakes winner Salade.

“Most of the Sires horses are in it, but no Sepoy which is nice,” O'Brien said. “This will be the first Group 1 he'll have run in without Sepoy in it.”

Story by Shaun Kelly, to view Racing Victoria story click here

Photo by Bruno Cannatelli, to view Racepixvic website click here

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