The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Gallic Chieftain’s win in the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) has earned Archie Alexander a spot in next week’s $2 million Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick.
The impressive six-year-old stayer swooped in late to claim his fourth third-up victory of his career, surprising the leading Shraaoh to win by half a length at the line.
Gallic Chieftain entered the race at $16.00, but appeared to relish the soft conditions after running fifth in the Yarra Valley Cup last month.
Gallic Chieftain now returns to Group 1 level after running eighth in last year’s Caulfield Cup, hoping to become the ninth horse to win the Chairman’s Handicap-Sydney Cup double and the first since The Offer in 2014.
“We came up here just for this race, but with the Sydney Cup in the back of our mind obviously, but you probably can’t go back home now so we will keep him here, keep him nice and fresh for a week, and tackle the big one” winning trainer Archie Alexander said after the race.
Alexander credits Saturday’s win to the brilliant ride of Damian Lane as well as Gallic Chieftain’s sharp turn of foot.
“I thought barrier one, light weight, one of the best jockeys in the world on him. The whole way I was pretty confident. I never thought he was in trouble. The plan was to stick to the rail the whole way, obviously Damien scrapped that plan and did the best thing and when he got out I knew he would be strong to the line” Alexander said.
For Shraaoh, it was another disappointing runner-up after placing second in a listed race on the same track last month. Chris Waller’s six-year-old had nothing but clear air in front of him but failed to lunge at the line when it mattered most.
It was also a disappointing run for The Taj Mahal, who firmed from $20.00 into $10.00 right before the jump. The gelding by Gallileo found the ideal spot three-wide on the final turn but fell behind down the straight as the leaders quickened.
Gallic Chieftain is now a $15.00 chance for the Sydney Cup, while Shraaoh also remains on the second line of betting at $10.00
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