The Chris Waller-trained Libran has opened clear top fancy in Chairman’s Handicap 2016 betting for Royal Randwick this weekend as he gears up for the quick back-up into Saturday week’s Sydney Cup.
The imported former French-trained galloper is one of only nine in the mix for this season’s $300,000 Group 2 Schweppes Chairman’s Handicap (2600m), which is set to run as Randwick Race 3 at 1:20pm (AEDT) on Day 1 of ‘The Championships’.
Of the nine stayers facing off in the traditional lead-up into the $2 million Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) back at the track on April 9, the top weighted runner is Lawman five-year-old Libran allocated 58kg.
He goes up two kilos from the 56kg he carried to victory at Rosehill in the Group 3 NE Manion Cup (2400m) last start, but is still well-fancied in the Chairman’s Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $2.20 for the win.
NSW Jockey Premiership leader Brenton Avdulla retains the ride on the gelding who is drawn in barrier four and is using the event as a stepping stone into the Sydney Cup over the two miles, which Waller prepared the first two over the line in last Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival with Grand Marshal (1st) and Who Shot Thebarman (2nd).
Following Libran in a wide-open market are then four other single figure fancies including the Joe Pride-trained Destiny’s Kiss and Café Society for Gai Waterhouse at $6 each for the win.
Rising eight-year-old Destiny’s Kiss enjoyed two wins in January taking out the Listed Gosford Cup (2100m) and the Listed Australia Day Stakes (2400m) at Randwick before a last start fourth to Sir John Hawkwood in the Group 3 Sky High Stakes (2000m) on March 12.
The veteran lines-up for his 53rd career start on the weekend, and with winning form up to 3200m is tipped to enjoy the step up in distance from the inside alley with Jason Collett in the saddle.
Waterhouse’s French import Café Society jumps from gate six with Zac Purton booked for the ride on the Motivator six-year-old who finished runner-up to Libran in the Group 3 lead-up at Rosehill last time out.
He drops from 54.5kg that run to Saturday’s 54kg minimum and looks a big hope for a top three finish once again.
The other major players in the markets are Waterhouse’s other runner Dee I Cee ($7.50) who steps up in class after two good Randwick runs back in February from the New Zealand expat and the John Thompson-trained Auvray ($8.50) shooting for his maiden win in Australia.
Auvray has winning form in France over 3000m in Group 2 and 3 company and ran fourth to Libran on debut down under in the Listed Randwick City Stakes (2000m) before his dead last in the Manion Cup he’s out to atone for on the weekend.
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