Team Williams and trainer Robert Hickmott could have uncovered another livewire Spring Cups hope in Almandin after a gutsy Harry White Classic 2016 win over the mile and a half at Caulfield by the German import.
A seven-year-old son of Monsun, Almandin has some outstanding form in Europe but had failed to finish in the money in his three runs down under before Saturday’s $120,000 Listed Harry White Classic (2400m).
In 2014 back in Germany Almandin defeated that year’s subsequent Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist in a Group 2 over 2200m, the Harry White Classic on Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes Day his first win since.
He could be finding his form just in time to line-up as a genuine shot at making the field for this spring’s edition of the ‘race that stops a nation’, Almandin nominated for the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Ridden by top hoop and three-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver in the Harry White, Almandin appreciated the hot pace and settled perfectly in fourth.
Fellow German import, the Lee & Anthony Freedman-trained Shimrano was allowed to roll forward and ensured it was a genuinely run 2400m race putting a big gap on the rest of the field early up front.
Assign settled second ahead of O’Lonera and Almandin, while the defending Harry White Classic winner Black Tomahawk for Darren Weir and the John Sadler-trained favourite The Bandit – imported from Japan – were at the back of the pack.
With 1000m left to travel the favourite was still 12 lengths off the pace-setter with plenty of work to do.
At the 800m mark jockey Nicholas Hall aboard the Cindy Alderson-trained O’Lonera started to clock forward and pick up the pace with the runners quickly compacting.
Four-year-old O’Lonera hit the front to lead from the fellow Hickmott-trained Assign, with Almandin chasing and Black Tomahawk coming around the bend with a swooping run.
With 200m to go Almandin ($4.80) drew clear and did it easy in the end, racing home to beat his stablemate Assign ($6) by a big margin while Black Tomahawk ($4) settled for his sixth placing on the trot in third.
“I was able to get a good trial,” Oliver said post-win.
“I came down the side and when O’Lonera got going I was able to get on the back of him.
“He gave me a good kick today this horse, he gave me a good feel.”
Too good in the end with a soft win after the gun ride by Oliver, Almandin looked to put himself in calculations for the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) over the same track and distance on October 15.
Without holding a nomination for that feature however, next weekend’s $750,000 Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Sydney’s Royal Randwick could be on the cards.
The real prize though is the 2016 Melbourne Cup Flemington over the two miles on the first Tuesday of November, a race part-owner Lloyd Williams has won four times previously.
Having been imported for the purposes of a Spring Cups’ bid, the win on the board puts the horse in the Melbourne Cup mix if he can get his ratings up in time for the world’s richest handicap on November 1.
“Williams and the Hickmott stable, they have a very good record around the spring and this horse could be finding form just at the right time,” Oliver said in a glowing report.
To back Almandin next race and check his price in all-in Melbourne Cup betting head to Ladbrokes.com.au now.
2016 Harry White Classic Results & Finishing Order
Caulfield Race 2 – 24/09/2016
|1||3||ALMANDIN (GER)||Robert Hickmott||Damien Oliver||–||2||55kg||$5|
|2||4||ASSIGN (IRE)||Robert Hickmott||Ms Katelyn Mallyon||2L||5||54kg||$6|
|3||5||BLACK TOMAHAWK||Darren Weir||Michael Dee (a)||5L||3||54kg||$3.70|
|4||7||O’LONERA||Cindy Alderson||Nicholas Hall||5.75L||4||54kg||$7.50|
|5||2||SHIMRANO (GER)||Lee & Anthony Freedman||Kerrin McEvoy||10.75L||6||55.5kg||$41|
|6||6||THUNDER TEDDINGTON (GB)||Jason Warren||Damian Lane||12.5L||1||54kg||$31|
|7||8||THE BANDIT (JPN)||John Sadler||Craig Williams||13L||7||54kg||$3.40F|
|–||1||SIGNOFF (IRE)||Darren Weir||Brad Rawiller||–||0||–||–|