Walter McShane’s diminutive but gutsy galloper Norsqui will have their next Sydney Cup 2012 lead-up run at Flemington this Saturday ahead of the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival classic at Royal Randwick on Saturday April 28.
Matsqui five-year-old Norsqui was last seen running a brave third behind Rialya and Drunken Sailor in the Group 2 Adelaide Cup (3200m) at Morphettville on March 12.
Before their Adelaide Cup run Norsqui scored an eye-catching two and a half-length victory over subsequent The BMW third placed Drunken Sailor in the Listed Mornington Cup (2400m) in mid-February, which was about when their Tasmanian trainer McShane started to seriously looks at the 2012 Sydney Cup.
“He’s been pretty much one-paced until he won at Mornington with a turn of foot that we haven’t seen before, it was very encouraging,” McShane said.
On Saturday Norsqui will drop back dramatically from the Adelaide Cup two-miles to just 2000-metres at Flemington for the $70,000 National Jockeys Trust Handicap (2000m) in a Sydney Cup sharpen up, and McShane is praying for a bit of rain to aid their chances.
“He’ll run in the 2000-metre race on Saturday to tune him for the Sydney Cup,” McShane said.
“We’re hoping for rain. We need something in our favour and rain would be the thing that would help him.
“He’s such a skinny horse. We’ve got a little bit of weight back on him since the Adelaide trip.
“We got him up to 430kg after a fortnight of feeding him up and not working him much but we’ve stepped his work up again now.”
McShane is also hoping that a better weight than the hefty 56kg in the Adelaide Cup and a better barrier than 19 of 20 last start will also work in Norsqui’s favour when they race for the first time in five weeks on Saturday.
“In Adelaide he had the second top weight and a wide barrier,” he said
“We just need something in our favour.”
The $500,000 Group 1 Sydney Cup is then run back up over the 3200-metres at Randwick in just over two weeks’ time Norsqui, who will carry the 52kg minimum, currently rated a $34 chance in the futures markets at bookmaker.com.au.
The Sydney Cup will be Norsqui’s third fourth time over the distance following thee 2012 Adelaide Cup third, 2011 Sandwon Cup and 2011 Andrew Ramsden Stakes where they ran third every time.
“Each run he’s had over 3200m he’s finished on well so I don’t think the distance is a worry,” McShane said.
“He’s tough and he’s honest.”
Reigning Sydney Cup winner Stand To Gain, now prepared by Robert Smerdon and who pays $61 at bookmaker.com.au to win the race again this autumn, is also nominated for the National Jockeys Trust Handicap on Saturday.
Sydney Cup odds are led by the Hawkes-trained seven-year-old Niwot ($4) who ran a good fourth in last Saturday’s The BMW followed by former Melbourne Cup hero Americain, an unlucky second in The BMW, and Permit on $5.50.
The Chris Waller-trained Permit, last seen winning the Listed NE Manion Cup (2400m) at Rosehill on March 31, is also set to have a Sydney Cup tune up this Saturday when they run in the $175,000 Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) at Randwick’s Australian Derby Day.
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