Darren Weir’s in-form stayer Big Duke jumped favourite in the declared no-race a fortnight back and the punters have remained faithful getting behind the same horse in updated Sydney Cup betting for Saturday’s re-run.
Of the fourteen horses engaged in the $2 million Group 1 Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) ‘take-two’ at Randwick this weekend, eleven went around in the first edition on April 8 that was abandoned due to the tragic fall of Almoonqith.
Jumping favourite that day was Raven’s Pass five-year-old Big Duke for record-breaking Victorian horseman Weir, the gelding having won five of his past six starts including his latest three on the trot.
This weekend the same horse will jump the punters’ pick with Big Duke getting plenty of support and leading the markets at Ladbrokes.com.au.
After jockey Craig Williams failed to win an appeal for a careless riding suspension, Big Duke will have a change of hoop on Saturday with Glen Boss flying in from Singapore for the Group 1 ride.
Hall of Famer Boss won the two mile classic aboard triple Melbourne Cup winning mare Makybe Diva back in 2004 and is excited about the winning chance of his late pick-up this season who he believes Weir will still have in peak form.
“I’ve found over the years that ‘Weiry’ has an amazing ability to keep a horse going through an extended preparation,” Boss told the Herald Sun.
“He is a bit like Chris [Waller] in that regard as they get their horses to hold their form for a long time.
“I would imagine Big Duke is in great shape for the Sydney Cup.”
Big Duke was last seen scoring a dominant two length win at the Randwick track on April 1 in the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) and drops right back from 58kg that run to 52kg on Saturday.
“I’ve been watching Big Duke winning his races this autumn and he has been quite impressive,” Boss said.
“His two Sydney wins have probably been his best wins.
“Maybe the [right-handed] direction is a factor, he enjoys getting his toe in the ground, and he has come under the radar with his light weight.
“There is not a lot to say he can’t win but there is a lot to say he can win.”
History shows the Chairman’s Handicap form has been the one to follow into the Sydney Cup, with 13 of the past 25 winners of the staying feature coming out of the traditional lead-up.
The Chris Waller-trained Grand Marshal (2015) was the last Chairman’s Handicap graduate to win the Sydney Cup, improving on a third in the lead-up to score the Group 1 upset at odds of 40/1.
The Offer (2014) the year before was the last horse to do the Chairman’s Handicap – Sydney Cup double that Big Duke shoots for this weekend.
Now at an equal $6 quote are the visiting Charlie Appleby-trained stablemates Polarisation and Penglai Pavilion, the Godolphin-raced raiders having run first and third respectively in the voided Sydney Cup results from two weeks ago.
Having drifted in the markets to become the first Sydney Cup winning filly since Moorilla right back in 1911, VRC Oaks winner Lasqueti Spirit is no longer at single-figures at a quote of around $12.