Four-time Melbourne Cup winning owner Lloyd Williams isn’t buying into the talk that the Australian horses are without a chance in this year’s edition of the ‘race that stops a nation’ believing the internationals are more than capable of being beaten.
The likely 2014 Melbourne Cup field for next Tuesday, November 4, is overseas-trained and bred horse heavy this year with betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au on the $6.2 million showdown led by Japan’s Caulfield Cup winning raider Admire Rakti ($4.80).
Also high up the futures Melbourne Cup odds are the likes of German stayer Protectionist ($7), Johnny Murtagh’s Irish-trained Ebor Handicap winner Mutual Regard ($10) and dual runner-up in the world’s richest handicap Red Cadeaux ($19) from Ed Dunlop’s UK base.
The shortest-priced of the Aussie Melbourne Cup entries is then the Kris Lees-trained Lucia Valentina ($7.50), the Turnbull Stakes winning mare coming off a brave third as the beaten favourite in the Caulfield Cup.
But with a lower quality field for the Cup than in recent years, Williams said the race was anyone’s especially with the below par form of the 11 internationals in the mix.
“Put Red Cadeaux, who has Group 1 form to one side, there’s not a lot of successful group 1 performances amongst the contingent of internationals,” Williams told The Age on Tuesday.
“I’m a Melburnian first and then I’m an Australian, but I believe a local Cup win is not beyond us. [Racing Victoria handicapper] Greg Carpenter warned us that the quality was not there and that’s evident with the weights going up two kilograms [when weights were released last month].
“There was no major Group 1 winner from overseas that leads the weights. We just have a group of horses that are very even this year.
“Put it this way, horses that were number 60 and 61 [on the order of entry] last year are probably 40 and 41 this year, it’s just a different line-up from what we’ve had in the past.”
Williams and his head trainer Robert Hickmott meanwhile also saddle-up a livewire chance in the two mile classic this year in Fawkner ($8.50) looking to break the spell for the locals after Japan’s Admire Rakti won the Caulfield Cup and Ireland’s Adelaide won the Cox Plate in the past two weeks.
Reset seven-year-old was sixth behind the Gai Waterhouse-trained import Fiorente in last year’s Melbourne Cup and is looking to go better than that in 2014.
Williams’ godson Nicholas Hall rode Fawkner to his sixth 12 months ago and retains the ride this year having partnered with the gallant galloper for his three runs this time in.
All three of those have been top two runs in Group 1 company too including his Caulfield Stakes win two back over Criterion and Side Glance.
Last weekend Fawkner was second past the post beaten only a neck by the Aidan O’Brien-trained Adelaide in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) in a top Melbourne Cup lead-up according to connections.
Williams prepared Green Moon for his Melbourne Cup victory two years ago.
Macedon Lodge’s other Melbourne Cup winners were Efficient (2007), What A Nuisance (1985) and Just A Dash (1981).
Green Moon is in the mix again this year as a current $51 outsider through Ladbrokes.com.au following a below par ninth in the Caulfield Cup.
“I’m just hoping the racing gods are on my side and Fawkner, as well as Green Moon, can be right in the finish,” Williams said.
“Fawkner showed in last year’s Melbourne Cup with his tremendous effort that winning a Cup is not beyond him, and he is also a year older.
“We’ve got Green Moon and, of course, he’s a past Melbourne Cup winner and just might relish the 3200 metres at Flemington.”
The other possible Williams-owned Melbourne Cup runners this year are then Sea Moon and Amralah.
Amralah is currently sitting 37th on the order of entry and so needs to win the $1 million Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) on Saturday to gain the ballot free ride into the capacity 24 starter Melbourne Cup field.
If he makes the cut Tommy Berry, who was to have ridden the since withdrawn The Offer, will likely take the ride.
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