2013 Melbourne Cup betting support has come for a number of European-trained runners since the second acceptances were released earlier this week and one of the best-backed runners has been Luca Cumani-trained Mount Athos.
Mount Athos is now on the second line of Melbourne Cup betting markets behind favourite Fiorente, at odds of $9, and has continued to impress at the International Equine Centre at Werribee.
The Montjeu gelding finished fifth in the 2012 edition of the Melbourne Cup with leading English jockey Ryan Moore on board but connections decided that they wanted a local jockey and Craig Williams has been booked to take the ride.
Williams has done a great deal of work on Mount Athos in the last week and told Sky Racing HQ that he could be happier with the six-year-old.
“I am really happy with him,” Williams said.
“Yesterday they changed a bit of gear around on him and I had a sit on him behind a horse and that gave me a bit more of an understanding about his attitude and his mannerisms.
“This morning I was able to test out his motor and I was very happy with his response in his gallop this morning.
“If I head down to Werribee again I will jump on for another canter but he has done all his work now and I have a good understanding.”
Williams rode Dandino, who is also thriving ahead of the 2013 Melbourne Cup, in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and the Marco Botti-trained stayer flew home in the final stages of the race to finish second behind Fawkner.
The leading jockey was already booked to ride Mount Athos in the Melbourne Cup and admits that he would have been happy to maintain the ride on Dandino, who will now be partnered by Ryan Moore, but is adamant that Mount Athos is the horse that he wants to be on.
“I made a commitment to Luca Cumani’s connections about two months ago and of cause Dandino had a great run in the Caulfield Cup that we all know is a great form reference for the Melbourne Cup,”
“Either horse I would be happy with but I am with Mount Athos but the way the he went this morning I am very happy to be riding him come Tuesday.”
Mount Athos was extremely well-backed in Melbourne Cup betting markets before last year’s race but his form this season has not been as impressive and he has not recorded a win since his dominant victory in the Group 3 Ormonde Stakes (2696m) in May.
Williams said that his mount has been unlucky this campaign and believes that his lack of winning form may have been an advantage when he was allocated just 54kg by Racing Victoria Chief Handicapper Greg Carpenter.
“If he came here with the picket fence that he had last year he wouldn’t be weighted where he is,” Williams said.
“We all know that the Melbourne Cup is a handicap and it is advantageous to be lower down in the handicaps.
“His runs have been quiet good without winning and in his last run before coming over here he gave weight to Harris Tweed and since then Harris Tweed just got beaten in a pretty good staying race at Ascot.
“Most importantly Mount Athos has been here last year and he has proven that he has travelled over here well.”
The Melbourne Cup is the only major Australian race that Williams is yet to win and he has missed the placings in all ten previous attempts in ‘the race that stops a nation.’