Team Williams will share in the ownership of six of the twenty-four Melbourne Cup runners at Flemington on Tuesday and part own Nick Williams is tipping last year’s winner Almandin as the one to beat again.
Internationally acclaimed jockey Frankie Dettori will ride the Robert Hickmott trained Almandin who has drawn barrier fourteen in the capacity field while stablemates Bondi Beach (Micheal Walker, barrier 1) and Gallante (Michael Dee, barrier 18) have drawn at the opposite sides of the track.
Team William’s other runners are the Irish stayers Johannes Vermeer, who is trained by the world’s number one conditioner Aidan O’Brien while US Army Ranger and Rekindling are prepared by O’Brien’s son Joseph.
Nick Williams said that Almandin has come through his preparation for the Group 1 $6.25m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) in great order and he can see him winning the famous two miler again this year.
“If I could pick who I would love to win, it would be Almandin, to have the honour of a back-to-back winner would mean a great deal to us” Williams told racing.com.
“He is flying, he’s in great form and I’d be really surprised if he doesn’t run a blinder.
“I think the horse has really improved, last year he certainly wasn’t the finished article and this year he is.
“Has he improved four-and-a-half kilograms? I guess will find out on Tuesday.”
Almandin has been allocated 56.5kg, up 4.5kg on his win last year, while the best of the Team’s other runners Johannes Vermeer has been handicapped with 54.5kg with Ben Melham to ride from barrier three.
Johannes Vermeer has had two runs in Australia for a second to Gailo Chop in the Group 1 $1m Ladbrokes Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 14 followed by a third behind Melbourne Cup rivals Boom Time and Single Gaze in the Group 1 $3.15m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 21 and Williams said that the 3200m will suit the Irish stayer.
“Johannes Vermeer has done nothing wrong since he’s been in the country, it was there for all to see in the Caulfield Cup where he was pretty unlucky and before that he had a pretty good pipe-opener over the 10 furlongs in the Caulfield Stakes,” Williams said.
“There seems to be doubts around the place that he’ll see the two miles out but certainly there are none from within the stable.
“He’s drawn perfectly and we expect a solid run. I know Aidan is very keen on him.”
“Two miles here is very different to two miles in Europe. It’s a much stiffer test on most of the tracks up there, so I think the big flat track at Flemington will suit him.”
Williams is also tipping punters to keep an eye on the promising Irish stayer Rekindling who was a winner three starts back in the Group 2 €120,000 Curragh Cup (2816m) at The Curragh in Ireland on July 2.
“He’s a three-year-old with pretty good form up there and he’s competed at pretty much the highest level for most of the season,” Williams said.
“If you look at his form through Defoe, Stradivarius and Order of St George, I’d say on face value his form is as good as any in the race.
“We’re confident about his chances but obviously the issue is that he’s a three-year-old and that’s a risk because not many have run in it.”
Almandin sits at the top of the Melbourne Cup market order at $8 with Ladbrokes.com.au while Johannes Vermeer is also well in contention at $10 and Rekindling is also under the $20 mark at $14.
The other three Team Williams owned Melbourne Cup runners are at huge odds, Bondi Beach and US Army Ranger at $61 and Gallante is the outsider of the field at $101.