Darren Weir’s flying Victorian stayer Big Duke will be very hard to beat in Saturday week’s Sydney Cup 2017 after putting the writing on the wall at Royal Randwick to win the ATC Chairman’s Handicap.
The Raven’s Pass five-year-old is all the rage in futures betting on the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Ladbrokes.com.au, his odds for the two mile classic set to firm after he won his final lead-up on Day 1 of ‘The Championships’.
Making it three official wins on the trot, the in-form gelding handled a rise from 54kg to Saturday’s 58kg top weight to salute for the punters in the $300,000 Group 2 Schweppes Chairman’s Handicap (2600m).
That race has produced three of the past four Sydney Cup winners with the double Big Duke is now well-supported to complete last achieved by The Offer in 2014.
Two back Big Duke was in Tasmania winning the Group 3 Launceston Cup (2400m), before he took out the Group 3 NE Manion Cup (2400m) in the wet at Rosehill on March 18 on protest.
Despite a four kilo step-up in weights for the ATC Chairman’s Handicap, he jumped favourite in the staying showdown with Craig Williams in the saddle.
Williams got the top fancy into a lovely position, pouncing to take up on the leader’s back in third on the fence.
Aloft crossed down to lead during a messily run first-half of the race, jogging along up front at a slow pace.
Out to inject speed into the race and turn it into a genuine staying showdown, jockey Tommy Berry moved right around on Vandancer to take up front running.
That suited Big Duke to a tee, the galloper getting the run of the race up on the speed awaiting a big finish.
At the 600m Vandancer was still in front, but Williams was quick to make a move on Big Duke coming off the fence away from the rails to challenge the leader around the turn.
On the straight the favourite moved up and really got going, taking up the lead as John Sargent’s Kiwi raider Rock On started to charge home late and the Lloyd Williams-raced import Aloft continued to run on well.
Last start NZ St Leger winning four-year-old Rock On tried hard, but he was no match for Big Duke with the Sydney Cup favourite coming away for a two length win over Aloft who was dour in second.
Rock On finished off well in third to round-out the ATC Chairman’s Handicap trifecta.
Big Duke was simply too big and too strong for his rivals in the perfect lead-up into the Sydney Cup where the horse will relish a massive weight drop.
Back the ATC Chairman’s Handicap 2017 winner Big Duke in the Sydney Cup at the best autumn racing odds online now at Ladbrokes.com.au.
2017 Chairman’s Handicap Results & Finishing Order
Randwick Race 3 – 01/04/2017
|1||1||BIG DUKE (IRE)||Darren Weir||Craig Williams||–||1||58kg||$2.45F|
|2||3||ALOFT (IRE)||Robert Hickmott||Ben Melham||2L||7||56.5kg||$4.40|
|3||7||ROCK ON (NZ)||John Sargent||Brenton Avdulla||2.8L||2||55.5kg||$8.50|
|4||5||ALEGRIA||John O’Shea||Joao Moreira||6.3L||6||55.5kg||$5.50|
|5||2||KINEMA (IRE)||Chris Waller||Zac Purton||10.1L||8||58kg||$18|
|6||4||PENTATHLON (NZ)||John Wheeler||Jason Collett||13.3L||3||56.5kg||$26|
|7||8||VANDANCER (NZ)||Michael Moroney||Tommy Berry||14.1L||5||55.5kg||$16|
|8||9||SHALMANESER||Jason Attard||Tim Clark||15.9L||4||55.5kg||$51|
|–||6||POLARISATION (GB)||Charlie Appleby||Kerrin McEvoy||–||0||–||–|