Big Duke to Contest 2017 Hobart Cup

January 30th, 2017

Trainer Darren Weir has confirmed that talented import Big Duke will take his place in the 2017 Hobart Cup field on Sunday, February 5th.

Big Duke will take his place in Sunday's 2017 Hobart Cup field. Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos

Big Duke will take his place in Sunday’s 2017 Hobart Cup field. Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos

Big Duke has only had four starts in Australia since he arrived at Weir’s Ballarat base from the United Kingdom partway through 2016, but has more than stamped himself as a serious staying force in posting two race wins and a close second.

Weir was particularly pleased with the Raven’s Pass gelding’s last-start win in the Schweppes Sparkling BM78 (2040m) at Moonee Valley on January 21st and is confident that the horse will only improve when he stretches out to a mile and a half in the Hobart Cup 2017.

“Today (January 21st) was to see whether we go to the Hobart Cup or not and I reckon he deserves his trip over there,” Weir told the media after Big Duke’s last start.

Luke Murrell, who buys all these horses, kept saying to me all prep ‘wait until you see him when he gets over a mile-and-a-half and he will be better again’.

“He was a bit of hard work in his first two starts, but now he has started to work with us and he’s been a bit more tractable.

Jarrod (McLean, assistant trainer) and the crew do a great job to get these horses right.”

Big Duke has a strong and consistent performer in trainer Michael Wigham throughout his short racing tenure in Britain, and concluded his northern hemisphere preparation with a smart win in the Yorkshire Post Magazine Handicap (2011m) in May 2016.

Running fourth in the Christmas Raceday 18 December BM70 (1500m) upon debuting for Weir in November, Big Duke ran second for Yarramalong Racing Club BM70 (1600m) on December 7th and won the Dennis Hanrahan BM78 (1800m) in his only other start prior to the Schweppes Sparking BM78.

The 2017 Hobart Cup field and barrier draw is due to be completed and released by midday, Wednesday (February 1st).

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