Duke’s Big Cup trial
BRENTON Avdulla says punters will know more about Big Duke’s Melbourne Cup chances after he runs in tomorrow’s Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m).
The placegetter in this year’s Sydney Cup is coming off a classy win in the St Leger Stakes at Randwick on Everest day and has continued to build nicely during his Melbourne Cup campaign.
He’s now rated a $20 chance to win the great race and takes on a small field at the valley his dominant $2 favourite.
Avdulla was confident heading into Saturday’s race knowing his horse is not only in form but improving with each run.
“It’s a good stepping stone towards the Melbourne Cup. I thought he won well the other day, so he’s obviously in good order,” said.
“He had eight runs last preparation heading into the Sydney Cup and his best were his sixth, seventh and eight runs which is where he’s at now.”
“He’s won around the Valley, in the leading Melbourne trainer’s hands and I’m sure he’ll be hard to beat.”
Avdulla first rode the lightly raced stayer in Hobart Cup in February and says he should have won that day as rode him into second behind Count da Vinci.
As he rises in distance he gets better and he made a lot of ground to finish third in the Sydney Cup which has given his rider plenty look forward to in Melbourne.
“I think his last preparation has held him in good stead and he’s a progressive stayer who’s only going to keep improving,” Avdulla said.
“He gave me a beautiful ride the other day. He relaxed well, travelled great and felt the winner a long way out so I think he’s going in the right direction and we’ll know a lot more on Saturday.
“I’m confident in the horse’s ability and I don’t think two miles will be a problem at the moment.”
Big Duke’s biggest danger could come from the in-form Richard Freedman stayer Auvray who was closing on him in the St Leger after being held up for a run on the home turn.
Meanwhile, Avdulla said he was looking forward to getting back on unbeaten filly Demerara in the Crockett Stakes at Moonee Valley tomorrow.
She’s overcome injuries to put together an unbeaten three-start career to date and faces her first black-type test after beating Workdrinks at Rosehill last start.
“She’s talented and stays against her own age sex and the 1200m around the Valley should suit her,” Avdulla said.
“She deserves her chance here. She’s won three from three, but she’s got to improve now that in Stakes grade.
“She puts herself on speed, tries hard, but is still learning her craft and she’ll have to improve on Saturday.”
Her trainer James Cummings has taken his time with her and she’s obviously passed all tests to date which has given the stable confidence.
“When we brought her to town tested her at 1200 metres which is a hard jump for a frontrunning horse like her,” he said.
“She took to it nicely and didn’t want overrate. She just put herself into the race kept fighting.
“She’s had a few weeks between runs and she’s had a jump out and a trip to the Valley yesterday to get some experience on the track that can only help.”
Brenton Avdulla is confident Big Duke will appreciate the distance in tomorrow’s Moonee Valley Gold Cup.