Charlie Appleby’s assistant trainer James Ferguson believes their Godolphin-raced raider Penglai Pavilion is an underrated chance in the 2017 Sydney Cup betting markets for the Royal Randwick classic this weekend.
Critics have labelled Saturday’s $2 million Group 1 Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) field as one of the weakest recent editions of the two mile showdown.
Just one of the fourteen stayers in the mix – the Chris Waller-trained Who Shot Thebarman – has a previous Group 1 win on the record.
All the money in Sydney Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au are on Big Duke to hand Darren Weir his first Sydney Group 1 after the impressive Chairman’s Handicap win last weekend.
Big Duke is at $2.70 and firming in the latest markets, while Who Shot Thebarman carrying the 57kg top weight and last start Neville Sellwood winner Assign for last year’s winning trainer Robert Hickmott are the only other single-figure hopes at $7.
That opens up the value for the Sydney Cup punters including the double-figure offering of $10 on one of the two Appleby-trained English visitors in the mix Penglai Pavilion in barrier six.
Last year’s winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy, who also rode the 2003 Sydney Cup winner Honor Babe to victory, is booked for the ride on the Monsun stallion this Saturday.
Penglai Pavilion hasn’t raced since a failed eleventh in the Group 1 Prix Royal Oak (3100m) in October last year, but has winning form up to 4220m and a previous two mile victory.
The distance is a non-issue in his Australian race debut and he is also very nicely weighted getting in on just 52kg.
The Newmarket-based Appleby was on fire with his visiting stayers during the spring winning the Lexus Stakes with Oceanographer, Geelong – Sandown Cup double with Qewy and the Bendigo Cup – Queen Elizabeth Stakes double with Francis Of Assisi.
Co-trainer Ferguson believes dour stayer Penglai Pavilion shapes-up as just a good a chance to post a Sydney Cup victory this weekend as their spring contingent did in Victoria.
“He is an out and out stayer and he would be very similar to both Qewy and Francis Of Assisi,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
“You look at Penglai Pavilion and he might not be as big as the likes of Qewy and Francis Of Assisi but he … has that mentality and constitution.”
The galloper’s last victory was over 3600m at Newmarket under 57.5kg last September, which he won by three lengths, and Ferguson said a similar performance on Saturday would have the rest of the Sydney Cup horses chasing him home.
“When he won at Newmarket that was a very good performance for a horse of that calibre,” he said.
“I think if he runs to the best of his ability he will be very hard to pick up.”
Stablemate Polarisation is another light-weight runner on the weekend jumping from gate eleven carrying 51.5kg with the race’s 2001 winning hoop Corey Brown (Mr. Prudent) booked for the ride.
The Echo Of Light gelding missed a Sydney Cup lead-up run in last Saturday’s Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) due to a minor leg injury, but despite the set-back is being kept relatively safe in the Group 1 markets for Saturday at $15.
“I think he would have backed up [if he had run last weekend] but I’m not bothered at all running him fresh,” Ferguson said.
“He comes to hand very quickly and when you see him at the races on Saturday he has a very slim profile and he [doesn’t] take that much work.
“He has that never say die attitude and if he gets a clear run he will be hard to peg back.”
Race tactics will see the Appleby duo sit up on the speed on the weekend turning the Sydney Cup into a genuine staying showdown according to Ferguson.
“We had a lot of success over here in the spring using our stamina as our advantage and I don’t think we will be doing anything different,” he said.
To back the raiders to steal the Sydney Cup trophy from the locals on Saturday at the right price head to Ladbrokes.com.au now.