Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien has employed a slightly different approach in his bid to add the Sydney Cup to his brace of Melbourne Cup trophies.
O’Brien won Australia’s most famous race with Rekindling in 2017 and Twilight Payment in 2020, both horses capturing the two-mile feature at their Australian debuts.
While he has followed the same formula with Baron Samedi, O’Brien has taken a different tack with stablemate Cleveland, giving that horse a lead-up run in the Group 1 Tancred Stakes (2400m).
Cleveland finished an eye-catching fifth at Rosehill and with an eight-kilo weight drop, he is a $3.90 favourite to give O’Brien his first Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Sean Corby is among the team looking after the O’Brien horses at Canterbury until his boss arrives later this week and he reports Cleveland has continued to thrive since the Tancred.
“He hasn’t done much work in between. The run left him spot-on so he’s just been doing his routine canters and we build it up a little bit as the week goes on into the Saturday,” Corby said.
“Kerrin (Mcevoy) was very happy with him so it looks like stepping up to two-miles should suit him well.”
O’Brien kept his powder dry with Baron Samedi, opting not to give him a prepatory run due to the firm tracks that prevailed earlier in the autumn.
The six-year-old has posted six of his seven wins on rain-affected ground and will enjoy the wet conditions expected at Randwick.
“He didn’t have a prep run as Joseph was waiting for the ground to get a little bit slower and he looks like he’s got that now, so hopefully he can run well on Saturday too,” Corby said.
“He’d have done plenty of work before he came here and he’s a gelding, not like Cleveland, so he wouldn’t take as much work, and he should be fit for Saturday.”
Both horses have to overcome wide draws, Cleveland barrier 17 and Baron Samedi 20.
Corby says Baron Samedi has some tactical speed if they choose to use it, while Cleveland is likely to settle midfield as he did in the Tancred.
“Hopefully he can slot over there some way behind the leaders or mid division,” Corby said of Cleveland.
“If he can get in somewhere in that race three-wide, that would be good.”
McEvoy sticks with Cleveland and has a great record in two-mile races having won the Melbourne Cup three times aboard Brew (2000), Almandin (2016) and Cross Counter (2018) and the Sydney Cup twice on Honor Babe (2003) and Gallante (2016).
– RAS NewsWire