Last year’s Melbourne Cup winner and 2017 equal favourite Almandin was back in the limelight with an eye catching first up second in the $120,000 MSC Signs Handicap (2040m) at The Valley last Saturday.
Bookies kept Almandin reasonably safe at $10 and his backers were starting to cheer when Ben Melham had the eight year old challenging for the front in the straight under his 61kg but he was unable to hold off the fast finishing Pacodali.
The Darren Weir trained Pacodali went on to record a three quarters of a length win but Almandin lost no admirers in the wash up at his first run back since winning the 2016 Melbourne Cup.
“It was what we were expecting,” stable representative Nick Williams told the media on Saturday.
“In all seriousness, he had 61 kilos but he was thrown in with the weight scale with this being a quality handicap.
“You would have wanted to have seen him run well. Benny gave him a nice ride, let him find his rhythm and I thought he finished off pretty well.
“For a first-up effort I couldn’t have been happier.
“He’s very well. I think he probably will have a light campaign.
“I am sure Dad (Lloyd Williams) will have got some races picked out for him.”
Almandin currently shares early favouritism with the Japanese stayer Admire Deus at $15 at Ladbrokes.com.au for the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 7.
Nominations for the 2017 Melbourne Cup will be taken on Tuesday August 29, 2017.
Early market order for the 2017 Melbourne Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au: $15 Admire Deus, Almandin, $17 Albert, Red Cardinal, Francis Of Assisi, Tiberian, $21 Ventura Storm, $26 Aloft, Beautiful Romance, Big Duke, Bonneval, Endless Time, Gingernuts, Hans Holbein, Hartnell, Our Century, St Michel, Wall Of Fire, $31 Defoe, Rekindling, Winx, $34 Barsanti, Bondi Beach, Crocodile Rock, Dylan Mouth, Exospheric, Humidor, Jon Snow, Kilamanjaro, Life Less Ordinary, Manatee, Order Of St George, Polarisation, Sarrasin, Thomas Hobson, Tiamo Grace, Vazirabad, $34 or better the rest.