Big Duke has significant support for the Sydney Cup but racing powerhouse Godolphin is undeterred as Penglai Pavilion and Polarisation zero in on their Australian debuts.
James Ferguson, assistant to English trainer Charlie Appleby, said the two were primed to follow the example of stayers Qewy and Francis of Assisi, two success stories during Melbourne’s spring carnival.
Big Duke’s compelling victory in the Group Two $300,000 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) at Randwick last Saturday did not go unnoticed by the Englishman.
“After a performance like Big Duke, that’s proven quality right there, but we’re not scared of him by any means,” Ferguson said.
The Darren Weir-trained Big Duke maintains favouritism at $2.50 with bookie Sportsbet.
While Penglai Pavilion has maintained a low profile at the Canterbury quarantine facility, Polarisation did attract some scrutiny after he was scratched from the Chairman’s Handicap when he suffered a superficial leg injury on race eve.
Ferguson said the Chairman’s Handicap was an afterthought for Polarisation with the stablemates in Sydney primarily to contest Saturday’s Group One Sydney Cup at Randwick.
Ferguson said Polarisation had been entered in the Chairman’s because of concerns he might not make the Cup field not because he needed to run.
“It hasn’t pegged him back at all. I think he would have backed up, but I’m not bothered at all about running him fresh,” Ferguson said.
Closer to home Godolphin’s Sydney-based trainer John O’Shea is applying the the finishing touches to four-year-old Tally, a last-start winner of the Group Three $300,000 Mornington Cup on March 25.
“It’s his first run at two miles but we’re optimistic that he can run the trip,” O’Shea said.
“He drops down nicely in weight off a strong performance in the Mornington Cup where he had 59kg and he’s very effective on rain-affected ground.”