Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
Fawkner is drawn to perfection in barrier nine for ‘the race that stops a nation’ on Tuesday but his co-owner Nick Williams believes Melbourne Cup barriers are historically not that important when it comes to the famous Flemington showdown.
Williams, who owns a host of the country’s top thoroughbreds under the Macedon Lodge banner with his father Lloyd, will saddle-up two horses in this year’s $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Lloyd Williams has won four previous editions of the world’s richest handicap, most recently two years ago with Green Moon.
While Green Moon was ruled out of a run this year with a cracked hoof, the stable still have two shots in the race with stable mates Fawkner and Sea Moon sitting at opposite ends of the Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
“I guess we’re fortunate as Green Moon’s had his day in the sun,” Williams said on Saturday.
“We’re hoping it’s only a minor ailment and we’ll see him again this spring.”
Reset seven-year-old Fawkner is one of five single figure hopes paying $8.50 to improve on his last start second behind Adelaide in the Cox Plate last time out.
Sea Moon meanwhile was dead last when 18th behind Saturday’s $5 Melbourne Cup favourite Admire Rakti in the Caulfield Cup over the mile and a half on October 18.
Tommy Berry has the ride on $151 outsider Sea Moon from the only Melbourne Cup barrier yet to produce a winner – 18 – but remains confident third-up the galloper can be there in the finish.
Nicholas Hall meanwhile continues his association with his godfather’s best chance at a fifth Melbourne Cup trophy aboard Fawkner who he also rode to victory in last year’s Caulfield Cup and the Caulfield Stakes two back this prep.
Twelve months ago Fawkner was a competitive sixth behind the Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente in the Melbourne Cup, Waterhouse’s first win in Racing Victoria’s showcase race, beaten six lengths from barrier eight when carrying 54.5kg.
Williams believes the horse is travelling better ahead of another go at the two miles this spring then, with Fawkner drawn in a comparable barrier but going up notably in weight to 57kg.
“He’s in better form than last year even though he’d won the Caulfield Cup,” he said.
“The horse has improved from last year and we’re very hopeful.”
The only horse to carry more than 56kg to victory in the past decade was Makybe Diva (58kg) for her third back in 2005, the mare also the last seven-year-old Melbourne Cup winner.
Barrier nine has produced two Melbourne Cup winners in the past 31 years, most recently with Efficient in 2007, but Williams is paying little attention to the gate gossip.
“Couldn’t be happier,” he said of the draw for both horses.
“I’m of the view that barriers aren’t that important in this race and the historical data shows that.
“All the jockeys get the chance to get into the positon they want to get.
“Being drawn in the middle gives Nick (Hall) every chance to get the horse to go to sleep and give him a great run into transit.”
Williams was also spruiking the local factor with the Australian-bred, owned and raced Fawkner.
“There’s not another horse in the race we can say that about so I hope the country gets behind him,” he said.
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