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Chris Waller’s Caulfield Cup hope Brimham Rocks is firming favourite in The Metropolitan 2019 betting in Sydney this weekend.
Part of the bumper Epsom Handicap Day line-up at Royal Randwick, this year’s Group 1 $750,000 The Metropolitan (2400m) field is down to 15 runners.
Originally there were 17 final acceptors for the mile and a half clash, but two have withdrawn with both Supernova and The Good Fight heading to Flemington for a shot at the Melbourne Cup ballot exemption on offer in the Group 3 The Bart Cummings.
Drawn gate four with Kerrin McEvoy to ride, the Fastnet Rock six-year-old comes off a lead-up win in Melbourne’s Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) that saw him get a ballot free ride into the Group 1 $5 million Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 19.
Waller is still to confirm the gelding will run in the classic, giving Brimham Rocks the chance at an earlier elite-level over the same distance in The Metropolitan Handicap.
In the Naturalism the winner carried 55kg to victory and he drops to just 52.5kg on Saturday.
Waller has won three of the past eight editions of The Metropolitan including his success with Patrick Erin last year.
He is chasing back-to-back wins by a trainer in the event for the first time since Gai Waterhouse with Coco Cobanna (2000) and Dress Circle (2001).
Brimham Rocks finished a nostril-flare second behind his stablemate in The Metropolitan results 12 months ago but is tipped to atone and go one better this weekend.
A further four stayers are also under double-figures in the latest The Metropolitan betting markets including the $6.50 second favourite Scarlet Dream carrying just 50kg.
The four-year-old daughter of Sebring is out to become the first mare to win The Metropolitan since the aforementioned Coco Cobanna (2000) 19 years ago for Waterhouse.
She gets out over 2400m for the first time since her second to Verry Elleegant in the autumn’s Group 1 ATC Oaks and is looking to improve on a luckless seventh in the Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) behind Finche on September 21.
Scarlet Dream was making up plenty of late ground in that run and presents fit third-up for her big assignment here.
Equal at $8.50 in betting are then stablemates Stampede and Hush Writer for Waterhouse and her co-trainer Andrew Bott.
Waterhouse has won The Metropolitan four times in the past 20 years for a total of eight victories overall in the classic, but not since Glencadam Gold in 2012.
Stampede ran second in the Kingston Town Stakes before backing-up a week later to win Rosehill’s Group 3 Colin Stephen Quality (2400m) carrying 59kg to a two length win last Saturday.
He is now racing for the third time in as many weeks, but will benefit from the drop to 54.5kg in the Group 1.
“It’s probably not the traditional lead-up with Stampede because he’s now racing three weeks in a row but he paraded the best he had all preparation on Saturday and ran accordingly,” Bott told The Daily Telegraph this week.
“He pulled up well and we don’t want to deny him the chance when he’s got the miles in his legs and is fit and in career-best form.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to capitalise on that and I like where he’s drawn and he’s got the natural go-forward pattern so he should get every opportunity.”
Hush Writer (52.5kg) is also a last-start winner, the Japanese-bred galloper coming off a Newcastle Cup win on September 20 – the same race Glencadam Gold won on way to his Metrop victory for Waterhouse.
“Hush Writer was great at Newcastle,” Bott said.
“It was a very strong victory because it was a real staying test from the outset and I thought he was strong through the line.
“I think he’s the one with more improvement going into this race.
“It’s only in his last couple of runs that we’ve seen him fully furnish and out it all together.”
Waller’s Perth expat Come Play With Me ($9.50) rounds out the current hopes under $10.
Click here for the latest The Metropolitan 2019 odds, the race due to run as Randwick 8 at 4:45pm (AEST) on Saturday.
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