Jockey Brenton Avdulla is hoping the weight advantage Libran has over his stablemates will be enough to carry him to victory in the Group 1 $2m Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on Saturday.
The Chris Waller trained Libran is backing up on day two of ‘The Championships’ and is dropping to 53kg after carrying 58kg when a neck winner in the Group 2 $300,000 Schweppes Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) at Randwick last Saturday.
The Waller trained Who Shot Thebarman will carry the top weight of 57kg in the Sydney Cup with Blake Shinn while stablemate and last year’s winner Grand Marshal has been allocated 55kg with James McDonald taking the mount.
While Who Shot Thebarman and Grand Marshal have followed the same Autumn Carnival weight for age path, Libran has won his last three starts under handicap conditions leaving Avdulla full of confidence of performing well in the Sydney Cup.
“It’s a bit of the old school, traditional prep, when The Offer won the Cup (in 2014) he had a very similar prep,” Avdulla told the Sportsman.
“Horses like Who Shot Thebarman and Grand Marshal have gone the weight for age path and their form is strong.”
“My bloke is the up and comer, that’s why we get the weight pull off them, and we get a chance to see how he stacks up against them.”
Libran kicked off his Autumn Carnival winning streak in the Listed $125,000 Girvan Waugh Randwick City Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on March 5 followed by a win in the Group 3 $150,000 Irresistible Pools & Spas N E Manion Cup (2400m) at Rosehill aa fortnight later.
The five year old stayer was then asked to carry 58kg in the Chairman’s Handicap and under hard riding from Avdulla, Libran was able to charge late to claim victory.
“Midrace I was confident he was going to be thereabouts then before the corner he lost his footing a little bit and gave a bit of ground,” Avdulla said.
“Once he balanced up at the furlong I always thought he would finish over them.”
“It’s the only time he has been asked for the supreme effort this prep and this has been his target all along.”
Libran will be stepping up the 3200m for the first time but Avdulla has no worries about him getting the extra 600m after he was so strong at the end of the 2600m in the Chairman’s Handicap.
“I thought in his run on Saturday over 2600 metres his best work was late and through the post,” Avdulla said.
“I thought once we get to the two miles he’ll be OK.”
The three Waller trained stayers are already having a great pre-race betting battle at Ladbrokes.com.au with Who Shot Thebarman at $3.50 holding a slight advantage over Grand Marshal at $4 and Libran at $4.20.
Sydney Cup market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.50 Who Shot Thebarman, $4 Grand Marshal, $4.20 Libran, $8.50 Almoonqith, $9.50 Gallanate, $13 Cafe Society, $21 Destiny’s Kiss, $31 Auvray, $51 Dee I Cee, Bayanova, $91 Like A Carousel.