Four-time Melbourne Cup winning owner Lloyd Williams has a trio of hopefuls lining up as he chases his fifth ‘Loving Trophy’ in the 2015 edition of Flemington’s famous two mile showdown and it could be the lightly-raced Bondi Beach who is his best chance.
Williams is the race’s equal most successful owner with four previous Melbourne Cup wins achieved with: Just A Dash (1981), What A Nuisance (1985), Efficient (2007) and most recently Green Moon (2012) who scored the upset at 20/1 three years ago.
This Tuesday in the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m), set to bring the nation to a standstill for three minutes from 3:00pm (AEST), Williams is represented by one local and two of the 11 international raiders in the 24 horse field.
Hickmott prepares his lightly-weighted Australian-trained runner The United States who pays $20 in the latest Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, who are running Best Tote or SP + 20% on the opening four Melbourne Day races this Tuesday.
Drawn in gate three and carrying only 52.5kg with the Hong Kong-based ‘The Magic Man’ Joao Moreira in the saddle, Galileo stallion The United States was last seen winning the Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m) with 56kg on his back ahead of his maiden look at the 3200m.
Head of Macedon Lodge, Williams also purchased a trio of overseas-trained hopes with the aim of running them in the Melbourne Cup.
Only Order Of St George missed the cut leaving the Aidan O’Brien-trained stablemates Bondi Beach and Kingfisher drawn in barriers 18 and nine respectively.
Colm O’Donoghe takes the mount on five-year-old Kingfisher on 53kg, a notable drop from the 62kg he had on his back when eighth last time out in a failed Group 1 Irish St Leger (2816m) bid in early September.
He is at $41 in the latest Melbourne Cup odds while Bondi Beach is half of that at $21 despite being drawn in the only barrier yet to produce a Melbourne Cup winner.
Expat Aussie hoop Brett Prebble is back down under for the Melbourne Cup Carnival and looks for his second win following his success aboard Green Moon as he rides Galileo four-year-old Bondi Beach on just 52.5kg.
The horse has had only five career runs for two wins and three seconds, Williams already tipping him as one of the best stayers he has ever been associated with.
“I think he’s a high-class stayer,” Williams told Racing Ahead on RSN.
“I think northern hemisphere three-year-olds have got a great chance in this race.”
After a Group 3 win over 2816m at The Curragh in late June he ran two seconds back home including in the Group 1 Doncaster St Leger (2917m) in September beaten only a neck with 57.5kg on his back.
As well as the barrier 18 hoodoo to overcome Bondi Beach is also looking to join Shocking (2009), Efficient (2007) and Caulfield Cup – Melbourne Cup double winning Kiwi mare Ethereal (2001) as the only four-year-old Melbourne Cup winners since the start of this century.
That doesn’t deter Williams talking him up pre-Melbourne Cup however, the goliath owner making comparisons to his other great stayers over the years.
“I go back to Efficient’s Cup and talk about Mahler – I think Mahler was probably a bit unlucky in that race, could’ve finished a bit closer,” he said.
“I think Bondi Beach is a slightly better horse than Mahler.
“Having his sixth start in this race is quite a task, but he’s a very good horse.
“If he has some luck in running, you’ll get a good sight from him. He looks terrific. He’s really done well at Werribee. He’s got a massive stride, and I’m very enthusiastic about this horse.
“I think he’s a high-class stayer – he might be the best stayer I’ve had.”
Not as confident with Kingfisher’s chances at an upset Melbourne Cup result in markets led by Fame Game ($4.40) and Ed Dunlop’s Caulfield Cup runner-up Trip To Paris ($8), Williams still wasn’t ruling out the other O’Brien-trained runner.
“He’s in good order, he’s a good stayer,” he said.
“Aidan’s been very keen on him since the Ascot Gold Cup.
“The program has been to bring him here – it’s not an afterthought, he [O’Brien] thought he was an ideal horse for the Melbourne Cup.”
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