The order of Chris Waller’s three staying stablemates in 2016 Sydney Cup betting on Saturday has shifted with Libran now the top fancy of the field to take out the 3200m classic at Royal Randwick.
One of four majors on Day 2 of ‘The Championships’, this year’s $2 million Group 1 Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) field features 11 hopefuls including three hopes for last year’s winning trainer Waller.
Top of the Sydney Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au is last weekend’s Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) winning import Libran who is drifting but still leading markets out from $2.90 to $3.70.
He jumps from barrier three with Brenton Avdulla continuing his association on the Lawman five-year-old, Libran dropping from 58kg last Saturday to 53kg this weekend, which includes a 2kg penalty.
The Chairman’s Handicap form has stacked up in the Sydney Cup more than any other lead-up race in the past 30 years, including producing the past three winners with the double last completed by The Offer (2014).
While the form, weight and barrier are all right for Libran the telling factor will be how the horse handles his first official start on a Heavy-rated track if Randwick doesn’t upgrade from its current rating before Saturday.
Following in Sydney Cup betting are Waller’s two best over the line in the same classic 12 months ago, with runner-up Who Shot Thebarman ($3.50) fancied to turn the tables over the reigning champion Grand Marshal ($4.40).
Who Shot Thebarman also ran third in the 2014 Melbourne Cup over the distance and won an Auckland Cup in New Zealand over the two miles he sees again on Saturday.
The seven-year-old gives the weight away as this season’s 57kg Sydney Cup top weight, but is drawn well in barrier five and has form on a wet track.
He also beat Grand Marshal home by one last start on March 26 when the duo finished second and third respectively to the stable’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes fancy Preferment in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill.
The next best fancied after the Waller single-figure hopes at $10 for the win is then the Gai Waterhouse-trained Café Society drawn in barrier nine, the French import getting in on the 51kg light weight.
Waterhouse has prepared two previous Sydney Cup winners with Linesman (1997) and The Offer (2014), her Motivator six-year-old Café Society coming off a third to Libran in last Saturday’s Chairman’s Handicap when beaten only a quarter-length with 54kg on his back.
Following closely are the likes of last November’s Sandown Cup winner Almoonqith ($11) who has Hugh Bowman riding on the weekend and the Robert Hickmott-trained Heavy track specialist Gallante ($12) drawn in barriers 10 and 11 respectively.
At more generous odds shooting for an upset Sydney Cup result like Grand Marshal (40/1) last year include the rails-drawn Destiny’s Kiss ($17) and Auvray ($31) who jumps from the race’s most successful barrier (8) with Tommy Berry in the saddle.
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