Williams’ Melbourne Cup Hopes on Display at Sydney

Renowned racehorse owner Lloyd Williams is already preparing for the 151st edition of the world’s richest handicap with a trio of his imported stayers to display their Melbourne Cup claims in this Saturday’s Sydney Cup showdown.

Williams, well known for his colossal thoroughbred purchases to target Cup glory, has three livewire chances for the $500,000 Group 1 Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick on the weekend.

The performances of Mourayan, C’est La Guerre and Muir will go towards showing Williams’ whether they have what it takes to run and win the 2011 Melbourne Cup at Flemington on the first Tuesday of November.

“They look great, they look well and will all go to Sydney for the Cup,” Williams said of the three stablemates.

Current $5.50 favourite to win the Easter Saturday two-miler is Williams’ five-year-old Irish import Mourayan.

Last start Mourayan ran a good Sydney Cup trial when just over a length away second behind Cedarberg in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill on April 2.

The son of Alhaarth is no stranger to the testing 3200m Cup distance having run a game third to Macedonian in the Sandown Cup over two miles last November.

Talented young jockey and William’s godson Nicholas Hall will be in the saddle aboard Mourayan on Saturday, Hall having partnered with the galloper on a number of occasions this prep including their fourth place finish to Sydney Cup rival Bid Spotter in the Listed NE Manion Cup (2400m) on March 26.

C’est La Guerre is also well-fancied for the Sydney Cup this year, the Shinko King gelding coming off a third to Gai Waterhouse’s improving mare Once Were Wild in the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) at Randwick on April 9.

In the Chairman’s, C’est La Guerre was blocked for a run and did well to finish in the money, the performance seeing his Sydney Cup price slashed and they are now equal second favourite with Once Were Wild at $6.50.

The Melbourne Cup arena is nothing new to C’est La Guerre.

Their first assignment in the famous Flemington feature was in 2008, C’est La Guerre coming within two lengths of Cup success when third behind the Cups King Bart Cummings’ 12th Melbourne Cup winner Viewed and runner-up Bauer.

The following year C’est La Guerre ran in their second Melbourne Cup, beaten five lengths when fifth to stablemate Zipping.

Williams’ third Sydney Cup starter and possible Melbourne Cup runner is Muir.

Rated a $15 chance in the Sydney Cup markets, well-bred Galileo gelding Muir is one of the only horses racing on Saturday to have run and won over the two miles having taken out the Group 2 Adelaide Cup (3200m) at Morphettville last start on March 14.

“Muir has shown he can cope with the trip,” Williams said.

“The other two are good stayers.

“It won’t be an easy race but they have show here at home that they have all improved and are worthy of going up.”

In 2007 Williams’ Zabeel gelding Gallic claimed the illustrious Adelaide Cup / Sydney Cup double and Muir, with established hoop Darren Gauci in the mount, will be out to emulate this feat on Saturday.

The Victorian-based Gauci has ridden Muir for their five most recent runs this year, doing a terrific job in the Adelaide Cup last start having to work hard from the far outside barrier 18.

“I was more thrilled for Darren than myself,” Williams said of the Adelaide Cup win.

“We go back some 30 years and he is riding Muir with great understand.”

The 2011 Sydney Cup is one of four Group 1 races at Randwick on Saturday bringing the Sydney Autumn Carnival to a close.

The 2011 Melbourne Cup is scheduled as Flemington Race 7 on Tuesday November 1, the showpiece of the spring racing season.