Horse Betting: Sydney Cup
Niwot rates as the horse to beat on weight-adjusted Timeform ratings.
This afternoon's G1 Sydney Cup over the metric two miles will bring together an array of talented current and former top stayers, headed in the weights by 2007 Melbourne Cup winner Efficient. Gary Crispe of Timeform analyses the field.
Former leading trainer John Hawkes, now training in partnership with sons Wayne and Michael, already knows what it takes to win a Sydney Cup, having been successful with Cross Swords in 1994.
This afternoon the new training team will saddle a genuine hope in Niwot, a horse with an impeccable form line for the 3200m feature.
The talented staying son of Galileo showed a touch of quality during last Spring when he treated the G3 Lexus Quality field over 2500m at Flemington with sheer contempt, running away to score by three lengths, idling the final stages.
He subsequently failed to repeat that form in the 2011 Melbourne Cup behind Dunadin, but was by no means disgraced, beaten just under four lengths.
This campaign he has been taken along quietly, with the Sydney Cup as his main target, and comes into the race at his fifth run in, which is quite significant in Niwot's form book. All three previous runs in that state have delivered a win for Niwot, including his Lexus win last Spring.
Niwot's last two runs have been at weight-for-age in the G1 Ranvet Stakes and BMW over 2000m and 2400m respectively, and it was hard to miss his effort in either, finishing fourth both times just over two lengths from the winner Manighar on each occasion.
Today he drops back to more suitable handicap conditions and gets 3.5kgs weight relief. Niwot is already a winner of the 3200m 2011 Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes at Flemington, and with Dwayne Dunn to ride from an inside barrier, Niwot rates as the horse to beat on weight-adjusted Timeform ratings.
Former European stayer Permit, now in the Chris Waller stable, brings impeccable form into the race, having won both major Cup handicap lead up races at his last two starts, the Manion Cup (2400m) and G2 Chairman's Quality (2600m).
A lightly-raced Dansili gelding, Permit is untried at 3200m, but is a winner in France over 2800m, so I don't see the distance as an issue this afternoon.
Currently rated 114p with Timeform, Permit comes in well with 53.5kgs, and the manner of his last two wins suggests he is capable of further improvement. He looks the main danger.
Another import, the former Luca Cumani-trained Drunken Sailor stays under notice following excellent recent form.
A winner three back at Flemington over 2600m, Drunken Sailor was then unluckily beaten in the G2 Adelaide Cup over the 3200m after having plenty to do from the 800m, and last time out was a creditable third to Manighar in the G1 BMW at Rosehill.
Off that run he will meet Niwot a kilo and a half worse at the weights today, which should turn the tables in that horse's favour. However, Drunken Sailor is such a strong stayer he cannot be easily dismissed as a genuine winning hope.
As an aside the pair also met in last year's Melbourne Cup with Niwot finishing four lengths in front of Drunken Sailor. Niwot has a slight worse weight turnaround this afternoon off that meeting but nothing that should cause the positions to be reversed here.
Evergreen stayer Efficient has been sparingly raced in a 27-start career that not only includes a Melbourne Cup win, but also a Victoria Derby and Turnbull Stakes.
Undoubtedly a class stayer at his best, Efficient has not raced since running fifth in the G1 Australian Cup (2000m) behind Manighar in March, some 50 says ago.
Efficient has a current Timeform rating of 119, some five pounds below his best old form, but it is also worth remembering that he is unbeaten at his only two starts at 2400m and longer.
If successful this afternoon, Efficient would give owner Lloyd Williams his third Sydney Cup winner, having already had shared ownership of previous winners Gallic (2007) and Major Drive (1987).
Last year's Sydney Cup runner-up Older Than Time from the Gai Waterhouse stable has been in consistent form and is on track to be in the finish again.
A very interesting race, with the ratings pointing to a Niwot victory and for him to keep his fifth run back from a spell, stats intact.