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One-time favourite for The Metropolitan 2017, the Chris Waller-trained Alward now looks unlikely to line-up in the Group 1 unless he posts a runaway win at Rosehill on Saturday.
Waller had the Irish-bred French import near the top of his contingent for the Group 1 $750,000 The Metropolitan (2400m) after Alward saluted for the Rosehill punters in a Benchmark 82 over 2000m on August 26.
That followed on from the Aqlaam gelding’s Flemington win first-up by three lengths over the same distance.
The lightly-raced five-year-old however failed to fire a fortnight ago when running fourth as the beaten $2.15 favourite over 1800m in a Benchmark 81 at Rosehill.
Originally Waller had Alward in the mix as one of just six final acceptors on Golden Rose Stakes Day this Saturday in the Group 3 $150,000 Colin Stephen Quality (2400m).
The Colin Stephen Quality winner is exempt from ballot and penalty for The Metropolitan Handicap, something Alward needs sitting well down the order of entry for the mile and a half feature.
Waller however opted to scratch the horse from the now five-starter Colin Stephen Quality field and instead has Alward running later on the card along with stablemates Up ‘N’ Rolling and Quick Defence in the $100,000 Ranvet Handicap (2000m).
Currently Alward is equal 66th on The Metropolitan ballot with only 50kg and would need to be winning the Ranvet Handicap, for which he is at $4 to do so following the rails-drawn Up ‘N’ Rolling ($2) who comes off back-to-back wins, comprehensively to get near making the Group 1 race field.
“Stepping up to 2000 metres will suit better, but to run in a Metrop he’d need to win by four or five lengths,” Waller told AAP.
As for the well-fancied Up ‘N’ Rolling, an $11 The Metropolitan chance, Waller believes he too needs to win by and equally impressive margin to press onto the September 30 feature Saturday week.
“He’s probably the pick of them. If he’s going to progress to Metrop he’d have to win by four or five, you won’t get me running him out of his grade,” Waller said.
Favourite in Colin Stephen Quality betting at Ladbrokes.com.au meanwhile paying $2.15 is the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained Newcastle Gold Cup winner Broadside.
Broadside gives the weight away going up from 54kg last Friday at Broadmeadow to 58kg this weekend, but the bookies are taking no chances.
The Metropolitan ballot exemption is a non-issue for Broadside however with the galloper already number one on the order of entry for the Newcastle Gold Cup victory.
Broadside is at $13 in futures The Metropolitan 2017 odds and looks a genuine lightweight chance currently allocated 52kg to hand co-trainer Waterhouse her incredible ninth win in the Sydney Spring Racing Carnival feature.
Waterhouse’s previous The Metropolitan winners were: Te Akau Nick (1992), Electronic (1995), Hula Flight (1996), In Joyment (1998), Coco Cobanna (2000), Dress Circle (2001), Herculian Prince (2010) and most recently Glencadam Gold (2012).
Alward is out to $21 in pre-field The Metropolitan odds, which Waller still dominates with the three equal $8 favourites: Libran, Antonio Giuseppe and Life Less Ordinary.
Libran (57kg) is the heaviest-weighted of Waller’s top trio, the seven-year-old having won the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) by one and a half-lengths with the same kilos at Randwick last Saturday.
Antonio Giuseppe and Life Less Ordinary finished two-three respectively in the same lead-up race, which has produced two of the past three The Metropolitan champions.
Waller won The Metropolitan in an upset in 2011 with The Verminator ($21) and again with $12 shot Opinion in 2014.
To back Waller’s runners in Sydney this weekend and to access the best early The Metropolitan 2017 betting odds and options head to Ladbrokes.com.au.
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