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Goliath owner Lloyd Williams could have as many as seven starters in the Melbourne Cup 2017 field as he chases an incredible sixth win in the ‘Race That Stops A Nation’.
Williams secured his fifth Group 1 $6.25 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) success last spring with Almandin ridden to victory by Kerrin McEvoy.
His previous Melbourne Cup winners date back to 1981 with Just A Dash followed by What A Nuisance (1985), Efficient (2007) and Green Moon (2012).
This season Williams could saddle-up his record number of Melbourne Cup horses in the two mile classic on Tuesday November 7 including the defending champion Almandin.
2017 Melbourne Cup Horses: Lloyd Williams-Owned
- Almandin (Robert Hickmott)
- Johannes Vermeer (Aidan O’Brien)
- Rekindling (Joseph O’Brien)
- US Army Ranger (Joseph O’Brien)
- Bondi Beach (Robert Hickmott)
- Gallante (Robert Hickmott) – Weather Permitting
- Aloft (Robert Hickmott) – If wins Lexus Stakes
Almandin leads all-in Melbourne Cup betting at $6.50 through Ladbrokes.com.au despite a last start fourth when failing to defend his Group 1 The Bart Cummings (2500m) title.
Italian hoop Frankie Dettori has the mount on the favourite, the jockey’s 16th ride in the world’s richest handicap.
Dettori’s best results have been seconds on Central Park (1999) and Max Dynamite (2015), while he rode Wicklow Brave for the disappointing 22nd in last year’s Melbourne Cup finishing order.
Earlier in the week Williams and his head trainer Robert Hickmott listed Gallante as an unlikely starter in the 24 horse Melbourne Cup field despite the 2016 Sydney Cup winner over the 3200m being assured a start.
Montjeu seven-year-old Gallante is 20th on the Melbourne Cup order of entry, but needs a confirmed wet track to line-up.
A proven mudlark undefeated on Heavy tracks, Gallante was 20th in the Melbourne Cup results last year and unplaced in his only two runs since including a seventh in the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) on October 25.
There is wet weather forecast in Melbourne leading-up to Cup Day however and Williams’ son Nick confirmed the race would be back on Gallante’s radar if the track suited.
“At the moment there is very unsettled weather forecast and Gallante being the wet-tracker he is, there is some chance there could be quite a lot of rain on Monday and Tuesday so we are just keeping our options open,” Nick Williams told Racing Victoria.
“You only have to look at [Gallante’s] run at Geelong [in the Cup] until he started feeling the track in the straight and see how well he was travelling, it looked like he was going to win the race by a mile.”
The other confirmed starters for Williams along with Almandin are the fellow Hickmott-trained import Bondi Beach, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Irish raider Johannes Vermeer backing up off a Caulfield Cup third, and the Joseph O’Brien-trained stablemates US Army Ranger and Rekindling also from Ireland.
“We are incredibly happy with Bondi Beach … Rekindling, Johannes Vermeer and Almandin are the obvious ones [that we are excited about] but we’re thrilled in particular with the way Bondi Beach is going,” Williams said.
“US Army Ranger is a mystery bag to us and we know Gallante needs some give in the ground but he’s flying on those tracks … we’re thrilled with them all and it wouldn’t bother me which one won, so long as one of them does.”
Along with Dettori on Almandin the other confirmed Melbourne Cup jockeys for the Williams’ contingent are Corey Brown on Rekindling and Ben Melham on Johannes Vermeer.
A seventh Melbourne Cup starter could emerge on Victoria Derby Day on Saturday should the Hickmott-trained Aloft win the ballot exemption on offer in the Group 3 $300,000 Lexus Stakes (2500m).
“Hopefully if things go his way we could sneak Aloft into the race as well and he’d be a terrific chance if he could make it,” Williams said.
Williams’ largest number of starters in a single Melbourne Cup field to date was six in the 2013 edition where Fawkner (6th) was the best result followed by: Seville (12th), Sea Moon (13th), Mourayan (15th), Masked Marvel (18th) and Green Moon (21st).
“We love this race and we’ve got a great sense of history toward the race,” Williams said.
“The best thing that could happen, I would love Almandin to be able to win back to back.
“[Almandin] had a gallop this morning and by all reports that went very well.”
To check out the latest Melbourne Cup 2017 odds on offer for the Williams’ runners visit Ladbrokes.com.au.
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