Chris Waller celebrated his birthday with an early Randwick Guineas Day win in Sydney unveiling a livewire hope for the upcoming 2016 Sydney Cup in Libran who broke his Australian maiden with a win in the $125,000 Listed Randwick City Stakes (2000m).
Waller saddled up three in the handicap clash including his European import Libran who had his third run down under and his second in black-type company for the stable.
On debut he ran a good third to Bull Point over the Randwick mile before he suffered a luckless run at Rosehill a fortnight ago when failing to get into the clear until very late when fourth to Arab Dawn in the Listed Parramatta Cup (1900m).
A progressive stayer who is tipped to improve the more distance he goes over, the Lawman five-year-old had Brenton Avdulla aboard once more for the Randwick City Stakes where he settled into a handy fourth on the fence.
The pace was set early by the Glyn Schofield-ridden stablemate Marenostro with the third of the Waller hopes Beyond Thankful sitting outside the leader in second ahead of the Gai Waterhouse-trained Bohemian Lily.
Waterhouse’s other runner Café Society pressed on and jockey Hugh Bowman decided to go forward on the 59.5kg top weight Beyond Thankful who went up to lead and upped the pace, turning it into a genuinely run 2000m showdown.
Beyond Thankful had four and five lengths to spare at one stage putting on a good gallop up front while the John O’Shea-trained race favourite Allergic, coming off a second in the Parramatta Cup, was third last.
With the home turn approaching, Libran moved one off the fence looking for the gap and rival hoop James McDonald followed the eventual winner up on the top fancy Allergic.
Libran sliced through the field coming around the heels of Beyond Thankful at the right time and hit the front 300m from the line, Street Cry four-year-old Allergic trying to pick him up on the outside trying hard but unable to run down Waller’s classy import.
Despite being exposed for quite a long time, Libran ($3.90) held on and dug deep to beat home the market mover Allergic ($2.80), who was brave in defeat in his eighth run this prep, by a head while the David Vandyke-trained Group 1 performer Maurus finished off the Randwick City Stakes trifecta in third.
Also putting in an ace late run for fourth just over three lengths off the winner was the John Thompson-trained French expat Auvray in his Australian debut.
Auvray looked every bit a progressive type ahead of the $2 million Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) on April 9.
Waller named the $300,000 Group 2 Schweppes Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) back at Randwick on Day 1 of ‘The Championships’, April 2, as the next major aim for Libran.
“I think the second horse Allergic is pretty smart and he (Libran) held him off well,” Waller said post-win on Saturday.
“I’ve said to the owners he will be set for the Chairman’s Handicap.”
The Chairman’s Handicap winner is exempt from ballot and penalty for the following weekend’s Sydney Cup over the two miles.
Waller prepared last year’s Sydney Cup quinella and said that if Libran turned up in the Chairman’s Handicap he would back up in seven days later in the Group 1.
“I know it [the Chairman’s Handicap] is a bit obscure, but it’s a week before the Sydney Cup,” Waller added.
“It’s all good to dream about The Championship races but the reality is you can miss out on them.
“The Chairman’s is a really good race and if he won that then he is a Sydney Cup chance.”
Avdulla plans to stay on Libran all the way to the Sydney Cup where he believes the horse is a genuine lightweight chance.
“His long term goal is the Sydney Cup and he is in that with 50kg,” he said.
“He let down like a nice horse. He gave me a good run and really switched off well for me.
“He got there quick, he’s a promising horse going forward and I don’t think there’s any doubt he’ll improve over further.”
Libran is now equal $8 favourite in early Sydney Cup betting at bookmakers around the country.
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2016 Randwick City Stakes Results
Randwick Race 3 – 05/03/2016
|1||9||LIBRAN (IRE)||Chris Waller||Brenton Avdulla||–||1||54kg||$3.90|
|2||6||ALLERGIC||John O’Shea||James McDonald||0.2L||3||54.5kg||$2.70F|
|3||8||MAURUS (GB)||David Vandyke||Jason Collett||3.2L||9||54kg||$7|
|4||2||AUVRAY (FR)||John P Thompson||Tye Angland||3.4L||2||58.5kg||$26|
|5||5||BOHEMIAN LILY (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Tim Clark||5.4L||5||54.5kg||$5.50|
|6||10||MARENOSTRO (NZ)||Chris Waller||Glyn Schofield||5.9L||4||54kg||$26|
|7||4||CAFE SOCIETY (FR)||Gai Waterhouse||Kerrin McEvoy||17.3L||8||55.5kg||$17|
|8||1||BEYOND THANKFUL (IRE)||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||18.5L||7||59.5kg||$17|
|9||12||RIO PERDIDO (FR)||Kris Lees||Craig Williams||37.8L||6||54kg||$101|
|–||7||LOOPHOLE (NZ)||Chris Waller||Tommy Berry||–||0||–||–|
|–||11||HIMALAYA DREAM (FR)||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Christian Reith||–||0||–||–|
|–||3||SIR JOHN HAWKWOOD (IRE)||David Vandyke||Blake Spriggs||–||0||–||–|