Alward races into Metropolitan favouritism

Imported stayer Alward has racked up back-to-back wins in Australia to join stablemates Antonio Giuseppe and Sayed as the early favourites for the Group One Metropolitan Handicap.

The Irish-bred gelding, who originally raced in France before joining Chris Waller’s operation last September, won second-up at Flemington earlier this month and then finished off impressively to claim the Pacific Boating Handicap (2000m) at Rosehill on Saturday.

Waller said pre-race the five-year-old would need to win to remain in contention for the Metropolitan (2400m) as a lightweight chance ,and he delivered by beating stablemate Chatelard by a neck in the Benchmark 82.

Alward then joined Antonio Giuseppe and Sayed as an $8 chance on the TAB futures market for the Metropolitan after shortening from $11.

The Jason Coyle-trained nine-year-old gelding Nat King Cu ($31) was a long neck back in third after tackling 2000m for the first tie in his 57-start career.

Waller said Alward would follow the same path Antonio Giuseppe took to last year’s Metropolitan by racing over 2000m a week before the September 30 feature at Randwick.

“Antonio Giuseppe won a 2000-metre race and we backed him up a week later and he ran second in the Metrop,” Waller said.

Sydney’s premier trainer was also impressed with Blake Shinn’s ride on previously unbeaten stablemate Chatelard ($7), who made a break at the 600m but was worn down $1.65 favourite Alward.

“It was a good run and a nice ride. He’s a tough horse, he got beat but it won’t be the last you see of him.

“He might even get out to 2400 (metres), not in a big race this prep … next prep,” he said. – AAP Racing