Big Duke overcame a tough run in transit to record a fighting victory in the 2017 Launceston Cup in Tasmania this afternoon.
Ben Allen was not particularly aggressive in the early stages of the Launceston Cup and he was caught wide throughout towards the tail of the field.
Big Duke quickly responded when Allen asked him for an extra effort coming around the final bend and it was left to the imported stayer and Hobart Cup winner Count Da Vinci to fight out the finish.
Count Da Vinci was in for the fight for a few strides, but Big Duke was too strong late and he fought-off his rival to deliver Allen his maiden win at Group level.
Big Duke proved to be the superior stayer today and was able to reverse the placings after Count Da Vinci beat the Darren Weir trained gelding by a length and a half in the Group 3 $200,000 Hobart Cup (2400m) at Hobart on February 5.
Weir took the five year old home to Warrnambool after his Hobart Cup second and he thrived in between his trips to Tasmania.
“Big Duke went home after the Hobart Cup and he has done a treat since that run,” Weir stable’s travelling foreman Maddie Raymond said.
Big Duke was always the punter’s top pick and firmed in from $2.50 to start the $2 favourite while Count Da Vinci drifted out in the betting to be the second selection at $4.40.
The Ken Keys trained Tuff Buckies had some support in the betting but was still sent out as one of the outsiders of the Launceston Cup at $26 after firming in from $61 and made up good ground at the finish to fill third place.
Winning rider apprentice Ben Allen has been riding in great form, registering fifty-six Victorian winners for the season but today’s Group 3 win in the Launceston Cup was his biggest success to date.
Today’s win was Big Duke’s fourth from ten race starts and three from his last four starts after wins at Caulfield and Moonee Valley in BenchMark 78 Handicaps before his second in the Hobart Cup.