The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
The Team Williams ownership group saddle-up six chances in the ‘Race That Stops a Nation’ on Tuesday and Nick Williams said their ideal 2017 Melbourne Cup result would be a win by the reigning champion Almandin.
Last spring Almandin backed-up from a Group 3 The Bart Cummings (2500m) win at Flemington, returning to the track on the first Tuesday of November to win the Group 1 $6.25 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) as an $11 chance from barrier 17 of 24 with 52kg.
Jockey Kerrin McEvoy rode Almandin to victory last spring handing prolific owner Lloyd Williams his record fifth ‘Loving Trophy’.
Almandin returns as an eight-year-old for the Melbourne Cup 2017 this week, chasing successive wins in the two mile classic for the first time since the historic three-peat of the mighty mare Makybe Diva (2003-05).
The son of Monsun rises to 56.5kg and is the second heaviest weights of the Melbourne Cup horses following last year’s third placegetter, the Godolphin-raced Hartnell (57.5kg).
Almandin led all-in Melbourne Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au, but has eased out from $7 to $9 second favouritism after drawing barrier 14.
Barrier 14 has produced three Melbourne Cup winners in the past 30 years, most recently the aforementioned Makybe Diva for her third in 2005.
Almandin’s weight of 56.5kg was last carted to victory by the German raider Protectionist in 2014 who won at 7/1 Melbourne Cup odds.
McEvoy chases successive Melbourne Cup winning rides on rival stayer Red Cardinal ($19) from the outside barrier this week, his mount prepared by Andreas Wholer who won with Protectionist three years ago.
Almandin meanwhile has international hoop Frankie Dettori in the saddle this year, the Italian on Max Dynamite for a second in 2015 and Wicklow Brave in a controversial unplaced ride last spring in his two latest Melbourne Cup rides.
Team Williams also saddle-up Caulfield Cup third placed raider Johannes Vermeer (Aidan O’Brien) who Nick Williams tips to run the distance no worries; fellow Irish visitors US Army Ranger and Rekindling prepared by Joseph O’Brien; and the Robert Hickmott-trained stablemates of Almandin Bondi Beach and Gallante.
Williams however said that sentimentally they would love to see Almandin go back-to-back, with the weight perhaps the only query on the last start The Bart Cummings fourth placed beaten favourite.
“The race book says he’s eight but he’s really only seven,” he told the Herald Sun.
“He missed two years with injury and even last year he wasn’t the finished article.
“This year, I think he is the finished article and he’s going really well.
“Can he carry 4.5kg more? We’ll find out on Tuesday.
“I’m very excited Almandin and also Johannes Vermeer and Rekindling.
“But Almandin is, if I can pick who I’d love to win, is Almandin because we love this race, we have a great sense of history, we’re proud Melburnians and to have the honour of having a back to back winner would mean a great deal to us.
“I couldn’t put a negative on Almandin. He’s on great order.
“The whole three are going into the race in triple A condition and, given that luck in the race, they’ll be fighting out the finish.”
To back Almandin to successfully defend his Melbourne Cup title at the right price head to Ladbrokes.com.au today.
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