Prominent business man and owner Lloyd Williams has gone out on a limb and has left race favourite Admire Rakti out of his top seven selections for the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday.
Williams has been left with one runner in ‘The Race That Stops The Nation’ in Fawkner following today’s scratching of his English import Sea Moon because of an elevated temperature and the withdrawal of 2012 Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon on Saturday before final acceptances because a cracked hoof.
But Williams‘ knowledge of the great race is second to none after being in the winner’s stall as an owner on four previous occasions with Just A Dash (1981), What A Nuisance (1985), Efficient (2007) and Green Moon (2012).
Talking on Racing Ahead today, Williams told host Shane Anderson that his granddaughter asked him for his top seven selections for the Melbourne Cup which he listed minus the favourite, Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti.
“I’ve given her the seven horses, I’ve left the favourite out. I’ve given her Signoff, Fawkner, Lucia Valentina, Protectionist, Mutual Regard, Araldo and Lidari,” Williams said.
“I’m an old casino proprietor for a start so I want to take on the favourite. If you have bookie tendencies you certainly haven’t got any blood in your veins if you don’t want to take on the favourite.”
“I think he is a doubt myself. I was a pretty serious punter at one stage in my career, I wouldn’t be backing the favourite. That’s my opinion today.”
Williams is heading to Flemington on Tuesday full of confidence for Fawkner who has had a trouble free preparation.
Fawkner proved himself as top line Group 1 performer with a win in last year’s Group 1 $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield before finishing sixth to Fiorente in the Melbourne Cup after racing near the tail of the field in the early stages.
But Williams has changed the racing pattern of the seven year old who has been settling closer to the pace this Spring with great success and will be in the top half a dozen again on Tuesday.
“He will be in the first few. After last year’s Melbourne Cup one of the things we have trained him to do here is to jump and be in the firing line,” Williams said.
“He’s had the T J Smith preparation, be in the first three and that’s how you win races. You noticed him in the Craiglee (Makybe Diva Stakes), you noticed him in the Caulfield Stakes, you noticed him in the Cox Plate, you can see what we are doing with him. He won’t be far away.”
This Spring Fawkner’s form has been top class with a first up second in the Group 1 $400,000 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 13 before winning the Group 1 $400,000 Cathay Pacific Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 11.
The Reset grey then went down narrowly to the super Irish galloper Adelaide when second in the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley last week.
Regular rider Nick Hall will once again be aboard Fawkner who will jump from barrier nine in the twenty-three horse field.
Caulfield Cup third placegetter Lucia Valentina, German stayer Protectionist and last Saturday’s Lexus Stakes winner Signoff all share the next line of betting at $7.50 ahead of Fawkner at $9 and Irish stayer Mutual Regard at $11.