Hall of Fame trainer John Wheeler is hoping his proven two-miler Pentathlon can defy his roughie quote in 2017 Sydney Cup betting on Saturday’s re-run of the Royal Randwick feature.
A fortnight ago on The Championships Day 2, the shambolic edition of the $2 million Group 1 Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) was voided after the fatal fall of Almoonqith.
Wheeler’s five-year-old Pentire gelding Pentathlon went around in the first running and is one of eleven returning Sydney Cup hopes in the new look capacity fourteen starter field this weekend.
The Kiwi galloper first raced down under during last year’s Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, but remains a maiden after five Australian starts.
Pentathlon hasn’t won any race since a two mile feature across the Tasman in December of 2015, one of the horse’s two top two efforts from five overall 3200m assignments – excluding the abandoned Sydney Cup on April 8.
His last official run was the week prior when finishing a distant sixth, beaten over thirteen lengths by the Darren Weir-trained winner Big Duke in the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m).
Big Duke is the firm Sydney Cup favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au for Saturday, the in-form stayer dropping from 58kg in the Chairman’s to an advantageous 52kg light weight for the Group 1.
Pentathlon is even further down the Sydney Cup weights coming back from 56.5kg to 51.5kg.
Jeff Penza comes aboard to replace the suspended Jason Collett on the current $71 roughie in betting.
Drawn barrier thirteen, Pentathlon will come into gate eleven if the two Sydney Cup emergencies fail to gain a start.
Twelve months ago the Robert Hickmott-trained Gallante saluted from barrier eleven (of eleven) to take out the classic, while the last big upset Sydney Cup result was in 2015 when Chris Waller’s $41 shot Grand Marshal backed-up for a Chairman’s Handicap third.
Wheeler, of Rough Habit fame, is hopeful his horse can be the next long-priced Sydney Cup winner but remains realistic knowing that a wet track or poor run in transit will be Pentathlon’s undoing.
“Pentathlon is a tricky horse and needs everything to go right but he can certainly run the 3200m and if he gets it right I’m confident he can be competitive at big odds,” Wheeler, whose last Australian Group 1 winner was Court Ruler in the 2009 Queensland Derby, told Racenet.
“He’s the type of horse who can over-race but with good cover and a soft run he can figure for sure.
“In the Melbourne Cup [last year] he was one of the strongest finishers [running ninth to Almandin] and that came off the back of a really good run in the Moonee Valley Cup when he ran home strongly for third.
“But a soft ride isn’t the only thing he needs. The horse also needs some firmer footing and I suppose that’s one thing good about the race being re-run, we’ll hopefully be get a better track however it’s still not going to be as firm as I’d ideally like it.”
Of the three new editions to the Sydney Cup field the best fancied in the latest markets is the Lee Curtis-trained filly Lasqueti Spirit coming off a third in the ATC Oaks.