Hunters are hopeful of collecting another cup

Mendooran couple John and Julie Hunter will get a second chance at winning the $2 million Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick this Saturday, but they will have to do it without the regular rider of their imported gelding Big Duke.

CUP FAVOURITE: Craig Williams guides imported galloper Big Duke to victory in the Chairmans Handicap at Randwick earlier this month.

CUP FAVOURITE: Craig Williams guides imported galloper Big Duke to victory in the Chairmans Handicap at Randwick earlier this month.

Craig Williams will miss the Sydney Cup ride on the race favourite after failing to get a careless riding ban reduced on appeal.

Williams needed to get two meetings shaved off his eight meeting ban from Sandown on Monday to be free to ride the Darren Weir-trained runner, which is searching to give its all-conquering trainer his first Group 1 success in the harbour city.

The suspension means Williams will not be aboard the five-year-old, which was purchased and syndicated by Australian Bloodstock.

Champion rider Glen Boss has picked up the ride on Big Duke after the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board dismissed Williams appeal against the severity of the ban at a hearing on Wednesday afternoon.

The Sydney Cup was originally run on April 8, however it was declared a no-race and called off when Almoonqith broke down after the field passed the winning post on the first occasion, resulting in Who Shot Thebarman also dislodging its rider Blake Shinn.

Big Duke was one of a number of runners to be pulled out of the event, however some riders didn’t get the message and continued to ride their runners out to the finish line.

Officials elected to re-schedule the race for this coming Saturday, with fresh nominations taken and some new runners set to line up.

A full field of 14 runners will line up in the race, with Big Duke drawing ideally in barrier two.

TAB.com.au has Big Duke a $3.30 favourite for the second running of the event.

The Hunters won’t be the only racing identities from this part of the world with a major interest in Saturday’s race.

Former Dubbo businessman Lloyd Walker has had a brilliant run with his horses in recent times, most notably Australian Cup winner Humidor, which ironically enough is trained by Weir.

But he will be firmly in the Chris Waller camp on Saturday as a part-owner of Cup runner Libran.

Imported from Ireland, Libran finished second to Gallante in the 2016 Sydney Cup, and while the six-year-old hasn’t won a race since last year’s Chairmans Handicap, each run this time in has suggested he is looking for the two-mile journey.

Libran is rated an each-way chance at $17 with TAB.com.au.

The Sydney Cup will be race eight on Saturday’s program, and will be run at 3.35pm.