A win by Aloft in Saturday’s Group 3 $300,000 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington and the arrival of some predicted showers could see prominent Victorian owner Lloyd Williams have a record seven runners in the 2017 Melbourne Cup.
Williams already has five Melbourne Cups in his possession and has plenty of ammunition to add one more winning trophy to the cabinet, with last year’s winner Almandin leading the field as the $6.50 favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au for the Group 1 $6.25m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday.
Trainer Robert Hickmott prepares Almandin along with Bondi Beach, Gallante and Aloft while Williams is also part of the ownership for the Aidan O’Brien trained Johannes Vermeer and Rekindling and US Army Ranger who are under the care of Joseph O’Brien.
The three Irish raiders Johannes Vermeer, Rekindling and US Army Ranger as well as Almandin and Bondi Beach are well up the order of entry for the Melbourne Cup while a start for Gallante will hinge on the weather and Aloft has to win the Lexus Stakes to gain a spot in ‘The Race That Stops A Nation’.
“Hopefully if things go his way we could sneak Aloft into the race as well and he’d be a terrific chance if he could make it,” part owner Nick Williams told racing.com.
Lloyd Williams’ son Nick, who is also in the ownership of all the Melbourne Cup contenders, is hoping the rain arrives to give Gallante his chance of running in another Melbourne Cup after finishing twentieth last year behind his stablemate Almandin.
“At the moment there is very unsettled weather forecast and Gallante being the wet-tracker he is, there is some chance there could be quite a lot of rain on Monday and Tuesday so we are just keeping our options open,” Williams said.
“You only have to look at (Gallante’s) run at Geelong (in the Cup) until he started feeling the track in the straight and see how well he was travelling, it looked like he was going to win the race by a mile.”
Gallante was beaten less than four lengths last start when seventh to Vengeur Masque in the Group 3 $300,000 Geelong Cup (2400m) at Geelong on October 25 and the seven year old is a proven two miler with a win in the 2016 Group 1 $2m Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick.
“We are incredibly happy with Bondi Beach … Rekindling, Johannes Vermeer and Almandin are the obvious ones (that we are excited about) but we’re thrilled in particular with the way Bondi Beach is going,” Williams said.
“US Army Ranger is a mystery bag to us and we know Gallante needs some give in the ground but he’s flying on those tracks … we’re thrilled with them all and it wouldn’t bother me which one won, so long as one of them does.”
Europe’s high profile jockey Franke Dettori has picked up the ride on Almandin after Damien Oliver, who had been booked for the ride in the Melbourne Cup, was suspended for twenty-meetings for improper riding for an incident in last Saturday’s Group 1 $3m Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley.
The Irish stayer Johannes Vermeer is also well fancied in the Melbourne Cup betting at $11 with Ben Melham booked to ride after partnering the five year old into third place behind Boom Time and Single Gaze in the Group 1 $3.15m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 21.
Rekindling is the next of the Williams’ runners in the betting at $15 ahead of Bondi Beach at $34, US Army Ranger at $41, Aloft at $81 and Gallante at $101.
Early betting for the 2017 Melbourne Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au: $6.50 Almandin, $8.50 Humidor, Marmelo, $11 Johannes Vermeer, Red Cardinal, Wall Of Fire, $15 Rekindling, Max Dynamite, $17 Thomas Hobson, $21 Big Duke, Tiberian, Hartnell, $26 Amelie’s Star, Nakeeta, Qewy, Single Gaze, $34 Boom Time, Harlem, Bondi Beach, Ventura Storm, $41 Who Shot Thebarman, Jon Snow, Abbey Marie, US Army Ranger, Wicklow Brave, $61 or better the rest.