The Darren Weir-trained favourite Big Duke saluted for the punters in the 2017 Launceston Cup results in Tasmania on Wednesday reversing the order of the Hobart Cup quinella with a win over Count Da Vinci.
The in-form Victorian raider had his first run in the Apple Isle on February 5 on the back of two Melbourne wins and ran second as the beaten favourite in the Group 3 Hobart Cup (2400m).
The Raven’s Pass five-year-old was forgiven by the bookies heading into the $200,000 Group 3 Launceston Cup (2400m) jumping the top fancy in betting again for the other staying feature of the Tasmanian Summer Racing Carnival.
Despite going up from 54kg to 55.5kg and drawing wide in the Launceston Cup field, the Ben Allen-ridden galloper didn’t disappoint in his rematch with the local Scott Brunton-trained Count Da Vinci.
An ultra-consistent Faltaat six-year-old previously undefeated at Launceston Racecourse with three wins from as many starts at the track leading up to the Cup, Count Da Vinci got the perfect run throughout.
Jockey David Pires had the gelding settled third just off the top two in running, eventual last past the post Miss Hissy and the Brunton-trained Hobart Cup third placegetter Gladstone leading the field around.
Big Duke meanwhile didn’t get things all his way, the favourite racing no better than three wide throughout the entire mile and a half summer showdown.
At the mile Big Duke was travelling fourth last on the outside of the Ken Keys-trained Tuff Bickie, a progressive four-year-old son of the 2009 Blue Diamond Stakes winner Reward For Effort up notably in class for the Launceston Cup test.
Reaching the 800m the eventual Launceston Cup winner was back to third last and was the widest horse in the field around the turn for home.
He was quickly on the scene upon straightening however coming down the outside in a thundering run.
Catching up to the leader, Big Duke ($2) got his head in front and drew clear showing his class and getting away with an impressive win over Count Da Vinci ($4.40) with roughie shot Tuff Bickie ($26) running a nice third to round out the Launceston Cup trifecta.
The run was even better than the winning margin suggested after Big Duke made up all the ground off a wide run, while the runner-up Count Da Vinci got the perfect trail only to get beaten by class after having no excuses late.
Celebrating his first Launceston Cup win, record-breaking Victorian horseman Weir may now be tempted to head to South Australia on March 13 with Big Duke targeting the $400,000 Group 2 Adelaide Cup (3200m) over the two miles at Morphettville.
2017 Launceston Cup Results & Finishing Order
Launceston Race 8 – 22/02/2017
|1||4||BIG DUKE (IRE)||Darren Weir||Ben Allen (a)||–||11||55.5kg||$2.10F|
|2||2||COUNT DA VINCI (NZ)||Scott Brunton||David Pires||1L||13||57.5kg||$4.30|
|3||15||TUFF BICKIE||Ken Keys||Jye McNeil||1.5L||10||54kg||$34.80|
|4||10||SETTLER’S STONE||Troy Blacker||Luke Currie||3.3L||4||54kg (cd 55kg)||$16.90|
|5||8||OUR LUCKY OMENS||Kelvin Bourke||Daniel Moor||5.6L||1||54kg||$14.40|
|6||3||GEEGEES GOLDENGIRL||Stuart Gandy||Ms Sigrid Carr||5.9L||8||56kg||$18.20|
|7||5||GLADSTONE||Scott Brunton||Anthony Darmanin||6.1L||12||54kg||$12.10|
|8||13||SMOKE ’N’ WHISKY||John Blacker||Bulent Muhcu||6.9L||3||54kg||$25.10|
|9||11||BIG PEGG||Scott Brunton||Jason Benbow||7.7L||6||54kg||$42.30|
|10||6||GEEGEES BARITONE||Leon, Dean & Trent Wells||Craig Newitt||8.2L||7||54kg||$22.40|
|11||7||SIORCA||Barry Campbell||Troy Baker||8.4L||5||54kg||$30.10|
|12||1||UP CUPS||David Brunton||Brendon McCoull||9.7L||2||59kg||$34.60|
|13||14||MISS HISSY||Paul Maher||Cory Parish||22.2L||9||54kg||$72|
|–||9||UNFURL (NZ)||Darren Weir||Dean Yendall||–||0||–||–|
|–||12||MILSON||Julie Richards||Ms Nikita Beriman||–||0||–||–|