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Last year’s winning hoop Kerrin McEvoy rates the Lloyd Williams-owned defending champion Almandin as the danger again in the 2017 Melbourne Cup.
McEvoy rode Brew to victory back in 2000 and became a dual Melbourne Cup winning jockey last spring partnering the Robert Hickmott-trained Almandin to a close victory from barrier 17 of 24 in the ‘Race That Stops A Nation’ ahead of Heartbreak City.
This spring the now eight-year-old Monsun gelding Almandin chasing multiple victories in the two mile classic for the first time since the mighty Makybe Diva made history with three on the trot from 2003-05.
McEvoy however is engaged to ride a rival to the defending champion in the Melbourne Cup 2017 field chasing his third aboard the Andreas Wohler-trained German raider Red Cardinal.
While confident Red Cardinal is a livewire chance following a good track gallop on Thursday morning, McEvoy fears that the Melbourne Cup results could again be dominated by Almandin as Williams chases his sixth ‘Loving Trophy’ with up to seven starters.
“He’s come back in better form than he was 12 months ago, has a turn of foot and loves a genuine tempo, which he should get,” McEvoy said of Almandin speaking to Racing Victoria.
“He’s the one we’ve all got to beat but I was happy with the way Red Cardinal galloped this morning.”
Last year Almandin came off a lead-up win in the Group 3 The Bart Cummings (2500m) and carried just 52kg to victory.
This season under 60kg he could only manage to run fourth behind the Darren Weir-trained Amelie’s Star in The Bart Cummings on October 7 and goes up to 56.5kg in the Melbourne Cup weights.
That weight was last carried to victory by Protectionist (2014), prepared by the same trainer McEvoy rides Red Cardinal for this season, who was the first Melbourne Cup winner since Makybe Diva (58kg in 2005) for her third to cart more than 56kg to victory.
Despite the lead-up loss, Almandin remains favourite in pre-field Melbourne Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au currently paying $6.50.
Melbourne Cup favourites have a poor recent strike rate with Fiorente ($7 in 2013) the first since Makybe Diva for her last two wins to salute for the punters.
Further down the all-in Melbourne Cup odds at $11 is McEvoy’s mount Red Cardinal.
Allocated 55kg the Montjeu six-year-old is first-up following a fifth behind Marmelo in the Group 2 Prix Kergorlay Stakes (3000m) on August 20 in France.
He won back-to-back two-mile races before that giving him an undefeated record over the Melbourne Cup distance.
Marmelo, to be ridden by Hugh Bowman on Tuesday, is the current $8.50 equal second favourite to improve on an excellent sixth in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) when reeling of the race’s quickest final sectionals.
The other $8.50 shot is the Weir-trained Humidor who has the ace Cox Plate second behind Winx from last Saturday working to his advantage.
This morning McEvoy gave Red Cardinal his final serious gallop and allowed the horse to close late in the final furlong to edge out partner Garcia.
“It was the plan to settle him a couple lengths off his partner and let him travel up on the bit,” McEvoy said.
“He let down nicely and I’m happy with where he’s at ahead of Tuesday.”
Check out the best Melbourne Cup betting markets online through Ladbrokes.com.au before the final field is announced on Saturday afternoon.
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