After nominating for three of his Sydney Cup hopes in Saturday’s Chairman’s Handicap 2016, Chris Waller has paid the final acceptance for only Libran in the Royal Randwick clash on Day 1 of ‘The Championships’.
A key lead-up to Saturday week’s $2 million Group 1 Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m), this year’s $300,000 Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) has attracted a final field of only nine stayers.
The headline acceptor and 58kg top weight is Waller’s in-form Lawman five-year-old Libran who jumps from barrier four with Brenton Avdulla retaining the ride on the import.
Libran has won his past two starts on the trot in Sydney over 2000m and 2400m respectively, the latest seeing him carry 56kg to a two length win in the Group 3 NE Manion Cup at Rosehill on March 19.
Avdulla rides the gelding for the fifth time on the trot this campaign, but Libran goes up two kilos as he looks for his first Group 2 victory ahead of a seven day turnaround into the Sydney Cup over the two miles.
The horse is current $4 second favourite in all-in Sydney Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au behind stablemate and last year’s runner-up Who Shot Thebarman ($3.40) who was a non-acceptor for the Chairman’s Handicap following his second in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) just last Saturday.
Following Libran in the Chairman’s Handicap weights this Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival are the John Thompson-trained Auvray (57.5kg) and Joe Pride’s veteran Destiny’s Kiss (57kg) drawn in barriers seven and one respectively.
Another former French-trained import, Le Havre five-year-old Auvray comes off a dead last when seventh to Libran in the Manion Cup last time out at just his second start down under.
A multiple Group winner in Europe over 3000m, Auvray is tipped to appreciate the extra metres and also drops from 58.5kg that run as he looks to break his maiden status in Australia.
The rails-drawn Destiny’s Kiss comes off a different lead-up when a close fourth beaten under one and a half lengths by Sir John Hawkwood in the Group 3 Sky High Stakes (2000m) from March 12.
He won back-to-back January races prior to that over 2100m in the Gosford Cup and 2400m in Randwick’s Australia Day Cup and will relish the step up in distance this weekend with winning form up to 3200m for the rising eight-year-old.
Runner-up in the Manion Cup last time out, the Gai Waterhouse-trained Café Society is back in the rematch looking to turn the tables on Libran in the Chairman’s Handicap.
The Motivator six-year-old is yet to win in Australia and will need to improve sharply to finish in the money again, but does drop down to the 54kg minimum on the weekend.
Waterhouse has also accepted for Dee I Cee third-up after two Randwick placings, the latest over 2400m on February 27.
John O’Shea has Medaglia D’Oro mare Algeria in the mix on the same weight, the in-form four-year-old coming off a number of nice Sydney runs including her Group 3 Aspiration Quality (1600m) third and last start fourth beaten under a length by Vergara in the Group 3 Epona Stakes (1900m).
See below for the full Chairman’s Handicap 2016 field, barriers, jockeys and weights then head to Ladbrokes.com.au for access to all of the autumn’s premier racing odds and offers!
2016 Chairman’s Handicap Final Field & Barrier Draw
Randwick Race 3 (1:20pm) – 02/04/2016
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Weight||Hcp. Rating|
|1||4x1x6x3411||LIBRAN (IRE)||Chris Waller||Brenton Avdulla||4||58kg||103|
|2||1150311×47||AUVRAY (FR)||John P Thompson||Tommy Berry||7||57.5kg||102|
|3||35x69x3114||DESTINY’S KISS||Joseph Pride||Jason Collett||1||57kg||101|
|4||x8x900x772||CAFE SOCIETY (FR)||Gai Waterhouse||Zac Purton||6||54kg||95|
|5||431×335234||ALEGRIA||John O’Shea||Sam Clipperton||2||54kg||82|
|8||211246×32||DEE I CEE (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Tim Clark||8||54kg||74|
|9||12249×5542||HIGH OPINION||Chris Heywood||TBA||9||54kg||72|