Top Sydney Cup fancy Big Duke became champion trainer Darren Weir’s first winner in Sydney today when he was able to win the Group 3 $150,000 Irresistible Pools & Spas N E Manion Cup (2400m) on protest on a very heavy track at Rosehill today.
First past the post Our Century got the judge’s decision by a nose over Big Duke after the pair slugged it out all the way down the soggy Rosehill straight, bumping on several occasions.
Craig Williams on second past the post Big Duke was quick to fire in a protest claiming Our Century bored out on him from the 350m to the winning post.
“I felt that the inside horse has shifted my horse off his course over a period of time for three parts of contact over a period of time from the 350m,” Williams told the protest inquiry.
“Over that period from the 350m to the winning post I believe he has moved me three horses.”
“All the way up the straight there is not much between us but that horse coming out put me off my racing line and I felt the three parts of contact has clearly out weights the margin that we were beaten of a nose.”
Our Century ($3.10 favourite) and Big Duke ($4) raced in third and fourth position throughout the race and once in the straight they cleared out from the rest of the field with the third horse Allergic ($4.60) twelve and an half lengths behind the first two.
Big Duke and Our Century are both nominated for the Group 1 $2m Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on April 8, day two of ‘The Championships’ but Our Century’s part owner Nick Williams said his stayer was not a certain runner in the Sydney Autumn Carnival major two miler.
“We will just have to have a think about that. There might be a better race for him than Sydney Cup. It might be in about six months (The Melbourne Cup),” Williams said.
“He is a good horse and he obviously likes it on top of the ground a bit better than this but he did a really good job today and is heading in the right direction.”
“This will take a hell of a lot out of him on this very testing ground so we will just have to see how he pulls up to whether he goes on from there or whether we wrap him up in some cotton wool and get him ready for the Spring.”