A fifth Hobart Cup is in the sights of premier Victorian trainer Darren Weir after import Big Duke booked a shot at next month’s feature in Tasmania with victory at Moonee Valley.
Big Duke was well-backed late from $2.05 to $1.90 in Saturday’s Schweppes Sparkling Handicap (2040m) and after being awkwardly placed on the turn, he powered home to defeat Cool Chap by a length with Hursley a long neck away third.
Big Duke gave Weir his fourth win at Saturday’s meeting after Gratwick, Zasorceress and Burning Front.
“Today was to see whether we go to the Hobart Cup or not, and I reckon he deserves his trip over there,” Weir said.
“So that will be his next run.”
Weir has won the Hobart Cup with True Courser, Offenbach, Gotta Keep Cool and Hurdy Gurdy Man, who was his most recent winner in 2013.
The Group Three Hobart Cup (2400m) is on February 5.
Big Duke was having his fourth Australian start on Saturday in the benchmark-78 race and made it back-to-back city wins after a victory in the same grade at Caulfield on December 26.
Weir said the gelding’s attitude had turned around since his first two Australian starts resulting in his stronger form.
Big Duke settled in the second half of the field and apprentice Boris Thornton on Cool Chap made a move out wide on the turn to put his mount in a position to win.
But Big Duke responded once he straightened up.
“I thought Boris outrode Ben (Allen),” Weir said.
“He got around him and Ben missed the boat a bit but luckily the horse was good enough to get Ben out of trouble. And it was a good win in the end.”