After spending a month acclimatising in relative obscurity at Canterbury, Godolphin’s Sydney Cup contingent is poised to emulate the stayers that made such an impression in Melbourne over spring.
Although Penglai Pavilion and Polarisation are not yet widely known in Australian racing circles, Godolphin’s assistant trainer James Ferguson drew a comparison that should resonate ahead of day two of The Championships at Randwick.
Ferguson said they shared the same traits as well-credentialled European raiders Qewy and Francis of Assisi.
Qewy won the Geelong and Sandown Cups either side of a fourth placing in the Melbourne Cup while Francis of Assisi won the Bendigo Cup and Queen Elizabeth Stakes during his first trip south.
“I’d say they’re similar profiles, especially Penglai Pavilion,” Ferguson said.
“They were all in jumps training with my father (John Ferguson). They’re very similar styles of horses, out-and-out stayers.
“Penglai Pavilion might not be as big as Qewy and Francis but he’s stacked, he’s got that mentality and that constitution.”
Polarisation and Penglai Pavilion, who have not raced since September and October respectively, jump from gates six and 11 in a 14-strong field in which the Darren Weir-trained Big Duke is the $2.80 favourite with online bookmaker luxbet.
“They’ll both go forward,” said Ferguson, sticking to the race strategy that was profitable in Victoria.
“We’ve had a lot of success in the spring using our stamina as an advantage and we can use that again, especially on the soft ground.”
Randwick was in the heavy range on Tuesday with some rain predicted for Thursday and race day, conditions that will suit the Irish-bred horses.
Ferguson was also comforted by booking experienced hoops Kerrin McEvoy (Penglai Pavilion) and Corey Brown.
“They both know exactly how to ride European horses and they know the other horses back to front,” he said.
“The only advice we’ll give is go forward and don’t let anything dominate you.”
Ferguson was reluctant to nominate Penglai Pavilion ($10) as Godolphin’s best hope ahead of his $13-rated stablemate.
“If he’s on his A-game I think he’ll be hard to peg back,” he said.
Weir, meanwhile, felt Big Duke was on track for a fourth successive win after being allocated barrier five.
“The way he went through the line on Saturday (in the Chairman’s Handicap) and the way he pulled up, he’s in great shape.
“Dropping from 58kg down to 52kg is a big weight drop so that’ll be a plus as well,” he said.
Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller has three runners, Who Shot Thebarman, the joint second favourite with Assign ($7), Libran ($13) and Kinema ($26).