Chris Waller’s Sydney Cup winner from the autumn in an upset, Grand Marshal is looking to atone for a failed Melbourne Cup run at Sandown on Saturday when stepping out over two miles for the third time in the 2015 Sandown Cup.
The imported Dansili gelding has won seven of his 26 career starts to date amassing over $1.43 million in prize money.
After kicking off in Europe with three runs in 2012-13, the now six-year-old debuted down under in February last year.
He hit the headlines this April during the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival though when scoring a very close win over stablemate Who Shot Thebarman to win the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) as a $51 roughie.
Since then though he has failed to finish better than fifth including his disappointing 21st of 24 runners behind the $101 outsider Prince Of Penzance who stole the show in this year’s Melbourne Cup on November 3.
Grand Marshal was beaten nearly 15 lengths in the world’s richest handicap, but Waller’s stable rep Justine Hales said he was checked in the run home down the famous Flemington straight and had come out of it in fine condition.
“He’s also come through the Melbourne Cup fine where he also got knocked over in the straight,” she told Racing Victoria this week.
Confident it was the class not the distance that got the better of the horse, Hales confirmed plans to give Grand Marshall another shot this Saturday in the $150,000 Listed Sandown Cup (3200m).
The quality handicap clash attracted 22 nominations this year led by the Gai Waterhouse-trained 2014 Sydney Cup winner The Offer who carries 60kg on the back of a Melbourne Cup eighth.
Nine-year-old Dandino for Melbourne Cup winning trainer Darren Weir is the next heaviest weighted with 59kg, but could instead run in the weight-for-age Group 2 Zipping Classic (2400m) on the card after his smart Group 3 Queen’s Cup (2600m) win last weekend on Emirates Stakes Day.
The David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Geelong Cup winner Almoonqith, also unplaced in the Melbourne Cup and nominated for this and the original Sandown Classic, and Grand Marshal then follow on 59kg.
In the ‘race that stops a nation’ Grand Marshal carried just 53.5kg with veteran hoop Jim Cassidy riding in his very last Melbourne Cup before retiring at the end of the season.
He last had 59kg on his back at Randwick at the start of October when fifth to Complacent in the Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m), but Hales is confident he can handle the kilos this weekend over the two miles.
“He needs the distance of the Sandown Cup but he should be right in it this weekend,” she said.
“He’s a big horse that has a bit of size about him so he shouldn’t have too much of a problem with the weight.”
The 2015 Sandown Cup field and barriers are out on Wednesday morning so stay tuned.
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