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Big Duke is on target for Saturday's Zipping Classic

The Darren Weir-trained Big Duke will be one of two stayers in the Zipping Classic out to add their name to recent horses who have won the weight-for-age race after contesting the Melbourne Cup.

Big Duke finished fourth in last week’s $6 million Melbourne Cup over 3200m at Flemington and drops back to 2400m in Saturday’s Zipping Classic at Sandown.

Big Duke is on the second line of betting at $3.30 behind Almandin ($2.60) and they are the only runners in the eight-horse field coming through the Melbourne Cup.

The winners of seven of the past 10 Zipping Classics have run in the Melbourne Cup.

Weir’s Warrnambool stable foreman Jarrod McLean indicated Victoria’s premier trainer was aware of the recent Zipping Classic history when deciding to head there with Big Duke.

“Weiry said horses coming back from the Melbourne Cup have a good record in the Zipping Classic, so I think that’s his reason for being there,” McLean said.

He said Big Duke pulled up well after the Melbourne Cup.

“He had a quiet gallop on the course proper at Warrnambool yesterday morning. Obviously there’s no improvement in him but he’ll present well come Saturday,” McLean said.

Big Duke will wear blinkers in a race for the first time.

“Weiry said ‘work him in them’ and he worked quite well in them so we’ll go with that, just sharpen him up a bit,” McLean said.

“He never runs badly. What you see is what you get with him.”

Big Duke won the Launceston Cup, Manion Cup and Chairman’s Handicap earlier this year before finishing third in the Sydney Cup.

His seven starts this spring have included a win in the $500,000 St Leger Stakes (2600m) in Sydney, second in the Group One Metropolitan (2400m) and fourths in the Moonee Valley Cup and Melbourne Cup.

McLean said it was always a query coming back from 3200m to 2400m but said they hadn’t had to do much with the stayer since the Melbourne Cup.

“He has just poked along at the beach and other than his turf gallop yesterday morning he’s just been in the water at the beach,” he said.

Almandin won the 2016 Melbourne Cup and finished 12th in his defence of the race last week.

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