On Saturday Chris Waller’s three-time Group 1 winner Boban will defend his Epsom Handicap crown but to go back-to-back in the Royal Randwick classic he will need to set a modern day weight carrying record.
Twelve months ago the Bernardini gelding broke his elite level maiden with a narrow victory over the since-retired mare Streama in the $500,000 Group 1 The Star Epsom Handicap (1600m).
He carried only 53kg to victory that day with Glyn Schofield in the saddle, the now six-year-old going on to win two more Group 1 races over the following months including the Emirates Stakes over the Flemington mile during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
This year history is against Boban becoming a dual Epsom Handicap winner as he’s been allocated the 58kg second top weight.
With stable mate and 59kg top weight Sacred Falls declared a non-runner with Waller to save him for the $400,000 Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) back at the track Saturday week that will leave Boban with one hefty impost and a notable hoodoo to overcome.
First run in 1865, the Epsom Handicap has produced just two dual winners over the years, and none since Desert War (2004-05).
Schofield is back in the saddle of the defending champ but the duo have a tough assignment as no horse since Super Impose with his devastating 61kg when winning his second Epsom in 1991 has carried over 57kg to victory in the handicap feature.
This time in Boban has had three runs, the most recent of which was a fifth to Dissident in a disappointing effort at Flemington on September 13 in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m).
Schofield was in the saddle that day and over the seasons has guided Boban to victory six times, the hoop hopeful of making it seven despite the stats against them this weekend.
“He carried 57kg when he won the Emirates Stakes last spring,” Schofield told The Daily Telegraph.
With the weight issue put aside, Schofield is also confident his mount has the right trainer in Waller to get Boban to improve on his latest start.
“There is none better than Chris Waller at getting them to improve,” he said.
“I don’t really know why he didn’t hit the line last start because his trademark is he doesn’t give up.
“The gap actually opened up, it was a beautiful run for me, but if you watch the race again from the 150m he started to lose ground.”
One thing Schofield does believe though is that Boban doesn’t need to be on the outside of his rivals to produce his brilliant late burst that won him the race last spring.
“In the Epsom last year he came right down the outside and people may think it is the only way he likes to run,” he said.
“But at Caulfield last spring, he threaded his way through the field and he has done it in other races.
“He’s not scared of taking a gap, he’s not scared of anything.”
Waller has confirmed up to four runners for this year’s Epsom Handicap field meanwhile with Boban to be joined by Royal Descent (Hugh Bowman), He’s Your Man (Joao Moreira) and possibly Lucky Chappy.
The all-in Epsom Handicap betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au are currently led by Rock Sturdy who will race for the third Saturday on the trot after pulling up well from his Group 2 Shannon Stakes (1500m) victory at Rosehill last Saturday.
The next best in betting then all come from the Waller stable with last start George Main Stakes runner-up Royal Descent ($5), He’s Your Man ($6) and then Boban ($7).
Lucky Chappy meanwhile can be found further down the Epsom odds at $41 after a fourth to stable mate He’s Your Man last time out in the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m).
Stay tuned for the official Epsom Handicap 2014 field to be released on Wednesday.
In the meantime back your early picks at their generous odds online now at Ladbrokes.com.au – home of the $500 match deposit bet for new customers that use the exclusive promo code SPRINGBONUS!