(Australian Associated Press)
Lloyd Williams has already won a record five Melbourne Cups but would dearly love to add to the history books by making it back-to-back wins with Almandin.
Team Williams has an interest in a quarter of the runners in Tuesday’s $6 million race, led by the favourite Almandin.
Williams’ son Nick says Almandin is in great form, relishing the prospect of the gelding becoming only the sixth horse to win the Melbourne Cup more than once.
“If I could pick who I would love to win it would be Almandin, but that’s because we love this race,” Williams said on Sunday.
“We have a great sense of history. We’re proud Melburnians, and to have the honour of having a back-to-back winner would mean a great deal to us.
“So that’s my heart speaking as opposed to probably speaking objectively.
“But I couldn’t put a negative on Almandin.”
Superstar jockey Frankie Dettori desperately wants Almandin to add a Melbourne Cup to his CV.
Dettori won Europe’s biggest race the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for a record fifth time a month ago.
But the former long-time number one rider for global racing powerhouse Godolphin has yet to win a Melbourne Cup, despite 15 attempts over 24 years.
“We’re really thrilled to have him on board,” Williams said.
“He’s a great friend.
“Apart from that, he’s the best jockey in the world so it’s not a bad start.”
Half the Team Williams runners in the Cup – Almandin, Bondi Beach and Gallante – are trained by Robert Hickmott in Victoria.
The three overseas-trained Williams runners will pit father against son as champion Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien seeks his first Cup with Johannes Vermeer while son Joseph has US Army Ranger and Rekindling.
They are among a record-equalling 11 overseas-trained horses in this year’s Cup.
Iain Jardine has the hopes of Scotland resting on him and his Ebor Handicap winner Nakeeta, the first Scottish-trained horse to run in a Melbourne Cup.
“There’s a lot of people rooting for us back home,” he said.
“It’s great, absolutely fantastic.”
New Zealand’s Cup hopes were dashed when Jon Snow was ruled out of the race.
Who Shot Thebarman’s Kiwi owners had planned to bring a big entourage with them to Flemington but the Chris Waller-trained nine-year-old was scratched on Sunday, ending his bid for history as the oldest Melbourne Cup winner.
Another former Kiwi-trained horse Humidor joins Big Duke and Amelie’s Star in the race for Victorian trainer Darren Weir, who won the 2015 Cup with Prince of Penzance.
New Zealand-bred gelding Cismontane is racing for trainers Gai Waterhouse, who won in 2013, and Adrian Bott.
Amelie’s Star and Single Gaze are the only two mares in the race, with the latter to be guided by the only woman rider, Kathy O’Hara.
Single Gaze’s Canberra trainer Nick Olive is not letting the hype of his first Melbourne Cup get to him.
“I’m sure on Tuesday it will probably hit me, the gravity of it all, but it’s just been good fun and the horse is well.”