Lloyd Williams has the weight of numbers in his bid for a fifth Melbourne Cup, but Gai Waterhouse has the weight of punters’ opinion as she looks for a first.
While Waterhouse’s Fiorente remains the favourite to give her a welcome Cup win on Tuesday, Williams owns six of the 24 Cup runners including last year’s winner Green Moon.
Like Williams, Waterhouse has ventured to the northern hemisphere in her quest to win the famous race, with Fiorente beating all but Green Moon a year ago at his first Australian start.
In addition to Green Moon, Williams has imports Sea Moon, Mourayan, Seville and Masked Marvel running in his navy blue colours along with the home-grown Fawkner, winner of the Caulfield Cup. Extraordinarily, five of the six Williams horses have drawn barrier 10 or inside, with four Williams horses starting adjacent to one another in gates seven to 10. Masked Marvel is in gate two and Mourayan in gate 19.
If one of them wins, Williams will be the outright leading owner of Cup winners with Dato Tan Chin Nam, who has also won four, missing out this year when Precedence failed by one place to make the field.
The trainer of Red Cadeaux, Ed Dunlop, said the barrier draw could prove critical for the Williams stable. “I said before the draw that Lloyd Williams held the key to the race, and with five inside gate 10 he will play a major role in how the race is run,” said Dunlop. “Our barrier (No. 23) is bad and we can’t do anything about that now. But if they run the race slowly, like last year, it will certainly count us out of the race. We need a genuine tempo.”
Lloyd Williams’ son Nick agreed that fortune had shone on the stable. “To have five inside 10 is an absolute dream. I can make a case for any or all of them. It is just very humbling to have six horses in the greatest race in our country and one of the greatest races anywhere in the world,” he said.
Waterhouse also has new acquisition Tres Blue running for her as she tries to win the race in which she has run second three times – with Te Akau Nick, runner-up to the first European winner Vintage Crop in 1993, three-year-old Nothin’ Leica Dane who backed up from his 1995 Victoria Derby win, and Fiorente.
Although she has trained more than 100 Group One winners in a career spanning just over two decades, most of those have been in Sydney where her record is comparable to that of her late father, TJ Smith, including five winners of Australia’s second richest race, the Golden Slipper for two-year-olds.
Having relinquished the Sydney premiership to Chris Waller in recent years, Waterhouse will also be looking to erase some bad memories of the past few months when a public spat between her and long-time friend and client John Singleton spilled over into a high-profile inquiry.
Ironically, one of the stumbling blocks in her Cup quest could be the Singleton-owned and bred Dear Demi, last year’s VRC Oaks winner who has had a trouble free preparation and looms as one of the better colonial hopes.
Singleton may not be quite as wealthy as Williams and has never won a Melbourne Cup, but his passion is as strong.
Dear Demi’s trainer Clarry Conners has four Golden Slippers but the Singleton-owned Zagalia’s fifth in Makybe Diva’s first Cup is the closest he has come to the prize.
“She is super,” Conners said. “She couldn’t be any better. She’s happy, I’m happy and Singo’s happy.”
Dear Demi finished second to English horse Side Glance in Saturday’s Mackinnon Stakes after running third in the Caulfield Cup.
MELBOURNE CUP FIELD – TUESDAY
|1||Dunaden||M. Delzangles||J. Spencer||1||58.5|
|2||Green Moon||R. Hickmott||B. Prebble||10||57.5|
|3||Red Cadeaux||E. Dunlop||G. Mosse||23||56.5|
|4||Sea Moon||R. Hickmott||S. Arnold||7||56.5|
|5||Brown Panther||T. Dascmobe||R. Kingscote||6||55|
|6||Fiorente||G. Waterhouse||D. Oliver||5||55|
|7||Foreteller||C. Waller||N. Rawiller||15||55|
|8||Dandino||M. Botti||R. Moore||4||54.5|
|9||Ethiopia||P. Carey||R. McLeod||14||54.5|
|10||Fawkner||R. Hickmott||N. Hall||8||54.5|
|11||Mourayan||R. Hickmott||B. Avdulla||19||54.5|
|12||Seville||R. Hickmott||H. Bowman||9||54.5|
|13||Super Cool||M. Kavanagh||C. Brown||13||54.5|
|14||Masked Marvel||R. Hickmott||M. Rodd||2||54|
|15||Moutn Athos||L. Cumani||C. Williams||22||54|
|16||Royal Empire||S.B. Suroor||K. McEvoy||11||54|
|17||Voleuse De Couers||M. Moroney||J. McDonald||21||54|
|18||Hawkspur||C. Waller||J. Cassidy||18||53.5|
|19||Simenon||W. Mullins||R. Hughes||12||53.5|
|20||Ibicenco||P. Moody||L. Nolen||17||53|
|21||Verema||A. Royer-Dupre||C. Lemaire||3||53|
|22||Dear Demi||C. Conners||C. Munce||16||51|
|23||Tres Blue||G.Waterhouse||T. Berry||20||51|
|24||Ruscello||E. Walker||C. Schofield||24||50|