Neil Dyer has both Cantonese and Royal Request in the 2014 Darwin Cup field and is happy with both of his gallopers heading into the $200,000 race at Fannie Bay this afternoon.
Cantonese joined the stable of Dyer at the end of last year, after previously being prepared by Bjorn Baker and he was set for a tilt at the Darwin Cup after performing well in three barrier trials at Cranbourne and Wangaratta in April and May.
The Redoute’s Choice gelding started his winter campaign with a sixth place finish in the QBE Cup (1200m) on June 14 and failed to fire in the Roant Gold Cup (1300m) a fortnight later, but returned to a semblance of his best form with a close second in the Chief Minister’s Cup (1600m) on July 12 and a third place finish in the Metric Mile (1600m) on July 26.
Dyer told Racing Victoria that he has been happy with the form of Cantonese this preparation and he is confident that the seven-year-old will be at his best when he steps up to 2000 metres in the 2014 Darwin Cup this afternoon.
“He’s having his first run for me over 2000m on Monday, he has gone pretty good at his last couple of starts over a mile, but his best form is upwards of 2000m,” Dyer said.
“You know 18 months ago he won the Listed Christmas Cup (2400m) in Sydney beating the likes of Moriarty and Fiumicino, so he’s got the quality.
“He should have won the Chief Minister’s Cup two starts back, but he ran off the track on the first corner lost his position and then got collared right on the line by Smarty Mac.
“He’s just going to need a little bit of luck in the run as his usual style of racing is to lead on the grass, but up here they’ll attack you.
“I’d lean toward him just because it is so tough for three-year-olds.”
Royal Request is yet to produce a bad performance since starting his campaign in Darwin with a dominant four and a half lengths victory in the Darwin RSL Handicap (1300m) on June 21 and he went on to finish second in the Darwin Guineas (1600m) on July 5 and take out the Darwin Derby (2000m) on July 19.
Dyer could not be happier with the way that Royal Request has performed in Darwin, but admits that the Bel Esprit gelding may be a better winning chance in the 2015 edition of the Darwin Cup.
“Our three-year-old is going into the race in very good form, he won the Derby in very fine fashion coming from last and running away from them, but the three-year-olds find it pretty hard to win the cup,” Dyer said.
“I can’t see him not finishing the race off; it’s just that the tempo of the open class horses might be a bit too strong for him this year.
“He’s a million dollars, but I feel next year I’ll have a real Darwin Cup horse in Royal Request.”
Dyer is chasing his third win in the Darwin Cup after taking out the 2011 and 2012 editions of the race with popular stayer Hawks Bay.
Cantonese is available at 2014 Darwin Cup odds of $5.50, while Royal Request is available at a quote of $7.50 to take out the Northern Territory’s feature race.