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Big Duke Wins Gr3 Launceston Cup
At Launceston in Tasmania yesterday, highly talented 5YO Irish-bred gelding Big Duke (Raven's Pass-Hazarayna, by Polish Precedent) broke through for his first stakes victory when powering home to score by 1 length for trainer Darren Weir in the $200,000 Gr3 Launceston Cup (2400m) for 3YO+, over 6YO gelding Count da Vinci (Faltaat-Cool Talk, by Shinko King) & 4YO gelding Tuff Bickie (Reward for Effort-Shebiscuit, by Strategic). Raced by a syndicate headed by Australian Bloodstock, Big Duke improved his record to 4 wins and 5 placings (including the Gr3 TRC Hobart Cup) from 10 starts for $255,424 earnings. Trainer Darren Weir said Big Duke may now be aimed at the $2 million Gr1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick on 8th April, before embarking on a Melbourne Cup campaign in the spring. "I've come to the Launceston Cup many times with good chances and they've all run terribly so it's great to finally win a Launceston Cup and with a very promising horse," Weir told Tasracing. "It was a top ride by young Ben Allen and I think the horse has shown today that he's very capable over 2400 metres but we are thinking that he could be even better over more ground so we could be aiming him at the Sydney Cup." Weir added: "We've always hoped he would be a Melbourne Cup horse and the way he is progressing we could get there but only time will tell."