Big Duke Huge Hope in Small The Metropolitan 2017

Jockey Brenton Avdulla is pleased to have picked up a ride in Saturday’s 2017 The Metropolitan rating the chances of the Darren Weir-trained Big Duke in a small field.

Big Duke

Big Duke is drawn midfield in barrier six for Saturday’s 2017 The Metropolitan in Sydney. Photo: Steve Hart.

Raced by Australian Bloodstock, six-year-old Raven’s Pass gelding Big Duke is one of just a dozen stayers set to face off at Royal Randwick in this year’s Group 1 $750,000 The Metropolitan (2400m).

“I’m obviously very lucky to ride for Australian Bloodstock,” Avdulla said on Sky Thoroughbred Racing after Tuesday’s The Metropolitan barrier draw.

Drawn well mid-field in barrier six, which produced last year’s The Metropolitan winner Sir John Hawkwood (2016), Big Duke has Avdulla coming aboard for just the second time.

The jockey, who shoots for his first The Metropolitan handicap winning ride, was aboard the lightly-raced import in the Apple Isle back in early February when running second in the Group 3 Hobart Cup (2400m).

Big Duke went on to win the Group 3 Launceston Cup (2400m) next-up with apprentice Ben Allen in the saddle along with two more races in Sydney after that in the autumn.

Craig Williams guided the galloper to success in both the Group 3 NE Manion Cup (2400m) run on  mud Rosehill track on March 18 and the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) at Randwick during ‘The Championships’ that Big Duke took out by two lengths.

The proven stayer showed his class later in April when third past the post in a blanket finish crossing under a length off the winner Polarisation in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) over the two miles.

This time in Big Duke has had three lead-up runs into The Metropolitan field with back-to-back fifths and his 10th last Saturday behind Harlem in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m).

Avdulla remains confident the horse can improve on the Naturalism Stakes run on the quick back-up returning to his preferred distance in a winnable race.

“At 2400m he probably should be undefeated,” the hoop said.

“Four runs in, on the quick back-up, one of the premier trainers in the world…so I’m looking forward to it.

“It’s a small field of 12 horses and he’s beaten most of them.”

Big Duke also drops notably in weight from 58.5kg to 55kg on the weekend in another plus for the Victorian raider who has a nice strike rate in the Sydney staying races.

Updated The Metropolitan odds at Ladbrokes.com.au list Big Duke as a $6.50 chance in a wide-open betting market.

In total six of the dozen acceptors are under double-figures in The Metropolitan betting including the narrow $5 favourite Libran for Chris Waller.

Libran carries 57kg from barrier three with Glyn Schofield to ride the last start Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes winner.

Waller has a total of four The Metropolitan runners on the weekend with his contingent also featuring Antonio Giuseppe ($5.50) and Life Less Ordinary ($5.50) who ran second and third respectively in the Kingston Town Stakes.

Equal 57kg top weight Who Shot Thebarman was fourth past the post in that lead-up and is at $11 to win, while recent Newcastle Gold Cup winner Broadside ($9.50) for the race’s eight-time winning trainer Gai Waterhouse is also being kept safe in the markets.

The other single-figure fancy at $9 is 50.5kg lightweight Foundry for owner Lloyd Williams.

To back Big Duke to win The Metropolitan 2017 at the right price this weekend head to Ladbrokes.com.au today.

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