Leading Victorian jockey Craig Williams is heading to Japan for a two-month riding campaign where he hopes to uncover a potential mount for this year’s Melbourne Cup.
Held on the first Tuesday of November annually at Victoria’s iconic Flemington Racecourse, the $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) is the richest handicap showdown in the world and so far has eluded Williams.
Although having ridden multiple Melbourne Cup starters, taking out the Loving Trophy remains an elusive goal for Williams.
Most recently he was aboard Michael Moroney’s imported stayer Monaco Consul in the 2010 Melbourne Cup, but could only manage to finish 14th behind upset winner Americain.
Surprisingly, this was the same result he produced with Leica Ding in the 2009 Melbourne Cup and aboard Varevees in 2008.
Throughout Williams’ stint in Japan he will ride for renowned thoroughbred owner Katsumi Yoshida.
Yoshida is no stranger to the prestigious Melbourne Cup arena having celebrated a momentous Melbourne Cup quinella with Delta Blues and Pop Rock in the 2006 Melbourne Cup.
Japan has been a successful riding ground for Williams with the champion hoop winning the Group 1 Tenno Sho (3200m) with the Noriyuki Hori-trained Jaguar Mail in May of last year.
Jaguar Mail was then aimed at the Melbourne Cup but later withdrawn due to issues with international quarantine regulations.
Williams’ Japanese engagement will begin on April 30 where his first ride will be aboard Tosen Reve in the Group 2 Japan Derby Trial at Tokyo Racecourse.
Tosen Reve is a younger brother to five-timed Group 1 winner Buena Vista.
Following the Japan Derby Trial, Williams returns the following day to take the mount on Jamil in the $1.5 million Tenno Sho at Kyoto seeking back-to-back wins in the feature.
Heading off after his Anzac Day appointments at Flemington, Williams will ride primarily for top trainer Yasutoshi Ikee before returning to Melbourne in July.
“It’s tough with the language barrier, but the racing is great and hopefully I can find a horse going towards the Melbourne Cup,” Williams said.