Anthony Freedman has the Brisbane Winter Racing...
Jockey Brenton Avdulla rates the chances of his mount in Saturday’s 2016 Chairman’s Handicap field Libran as high with the Chris Waller-trained import tracking towards a run in the Sydney Cup the following weekend.
A small field of only nine stayers are engaged to run in this year’s $300,000 Group 2 Schweppes Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) at Royal Randwick Racecourse on Day 1 of ‘The Championships’.
The Chairman’s Handicap winner is exempt from ballot for Saturday week’s $2 million Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) back at Randwick, and the race has provided seven of the past eight Sydney Cup winners.
This year the top-rated and weighted Chairman’s hope is Waller’s flying Lawman five-year-old Libran coming off wins in the Listed Randwick City Stakes (2000m) and the Group 3 NE Manion Cup (2400m).
Avdulla has partnered the improver for all five of his runs this time in including the two recent victories and continues his association this weekend saying Libran “should be hard to beat”.
To date Libran has winning form only up to 2414m, but Avdulla believes the 2600m will be a non-issue and the horse is a livewire hope of extending even further out to the two miles of the Sydney Cup.
“He’s a horse in form and he should be hard to beat again going up to 2600 metres,” Avdulla told Racenet.
“It’s a great chance for him to win a Group 2 and then onto the Sydney Cup as favourite the following week.”
The bookmakers agree with Libran the current second favourite in pre-field Sydney Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $4.
Waller, who prepared last year’s Sydney Cup quinella, dominates the markets again this autumn with the 2015 runner-up Who Shot Thebarman the current $3.40 top fancy after his second to Preferment in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) last weekend at Rosehill.
The stable also prepares third favourite Grand Marshal ($5) who ran third in an all-Waller The BMW trifecta as a 30/1 outsider and who won last year’s Sydney Cup in an upset paying $40 for the win after his Chairman’s Handicap third.
As well as Grand Marshal (2015), Waller also prepared the 2011 Sydney Cup winner Stand To Gain who improved on a Chairman’s Handicap 10th to also win the two mile classic at juicy odds of 20/1.
Along with Libran, the other shortest-priced Sydney Cup hopes in this year’s Chairman’s Handicap line-up are the John Thompson-trained Auvray ($26) who is a multiple Group winner overseas over 3000m and the Joe Pride-trained Destiny’s Kiss ($26) coming off a Group 3 Sky High Stakes (2000m) fourth from March 12.
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