Three things we learned from Melbourne Cup

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Melbourne Cup.

GODOLPHIN’S FIGHT GOES ON

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid’s quest for an elusive Melbourne Cup goes on for another year after Almandin stormed to victory ahead of Heartbreak City.

Godolphin had five runners in Tuesday’s race at Flemington, with Hartnell and Qewy finishing third and fourth respectively.

Flemington is a racecourse Godolphin has been competing at since 1998, with three runner-up spots representing their best finish.

Qewy and Secret Number showed buckets of talent in the two mile race, but question marks remain over Hartnell’s ability to run over two miles.

The horse is a class act, possessing plenty of pace, but perhaps he could thrive over shorter distance.

LLOYD WILLIAMS MAKES HISTORY

It’s been 20 years since Lloyd Williams last stepped out at Flemington, and on Tuesday, he delivered a spectacular press conference following Almandin’s win.

“I’m now 76 years as a Melbournian,” Williams said. “From the age of five, I listened to the Melbourne Cup. It’s always been a part of my life. I’ve dreamed about it since I was a boy.”

Williams is a record five time winner in Melbourne and the most successful owner in the history of this event.

He rarely makes public appearances these days, instead choosing to watch sport at home, where his son Nick is the face of the racing operation.

Kerrin McEvoy and Lloyd Williams.

Kerrin McEvoy and Lloyd Williams.

THE MELBOURNE CUP IS UNIQUE

It’s hard to think of any sporting event in the world where a big city comes to a standstill for a day.

In Victoria, employees receive a public holiday for the Melbourne Cup with most either turning out to Flemington or watching the race live on TV.

The Melbourne Cup is a significant part of Australian culture and it’s a race that draws everyone together. To see how passionate people were about the race proves how important it is, not just to the city, but also to the fans who travel across the country to watch the race that stops the nation.

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What type of horse is suited to the rigours of the MC?

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Melbourne Cup.

Consider the first four home this year — their diverse profiles are fascinating.

German-bred winner Almandin had run only 11 times previously, yet had finished second, beaten three lengths, to a French champion in Solow, in a small race over 2,000m at Longchamp in 2014.

The same year, Almandin had beaten Protectionist, a subsequent Melbourne Cup winner, when winning a G2, over 2,200m at Baden Baden. His new owner, Australian Lloyd Williams, brought him to Melbourne, but the Monsun gelding suffered a tendon injury and did not run for two years.

Coming into Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup, he had not had a public outing since winning the G3 Bart Cummings Stakes at Flemington on Oct 2 — unusual for a locally-trained horse. Because of his injury, he had been sparingly raced.

Runner-up Heartbreak City had been bought out of a claimer at Deauville in France in 2013 by his current trainer Tony Martin as a dual-purpose horse. It is very common for older horses in Ireland to run both over jumps and on the Flat.

It proved an astute purchase by Martin as Heartbreak City went on to win the showcase Galway Hurdle, and followed up with a win in Europe’s richest staying handicap, the Ebor at York.

Although French-bred, Heartbreak City is a son of Lando, a German champion. He had won six of his 22 starts before Tuesday.

Third home in the Cup, Godolphin’s Hartnell, had been mixing it with the staying elite in Britain as a three-year-old, winning the Listed Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot and finishing seventh in Kingston Hill’s Doncaster St Leger when trained by Mark Johnston.

But he has taken on a different guise with John O’Shea in Australia, having won five of his 14 starts in his new environment. Hartnell is by a Derby winner Authorized, out of a mare by Anabaa, a brilliant sprinter but a sire capable of getting middle-distance types.

And that brings us to Qewy, perhaps the most interesting of them all. He had won four of his 23 starts before Tuesday, including a decent race over hurdles at Newbury in the UK, and finished a respectable fifth in the Supreme Novices Hurdle. He was also twice placed over fences at a high level. Godolphin secured Qewy when John Ferguson disbanded Bloomfields, his jumping stable, earlier in the year.

Putting all the evidence into the mixer, it seems you need an experienced horse, preferably one with up to 20 starts on the clock. He needs to have started his career with another trainer — and any German lines to his pedigree should be taken as a positive.

One other factor to consider is that the experience of jumping in a horse’s past should never be viewed as a negative from a Melbourne Cup perspective.

The guidelines are there, but there are no rules.

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Melbourne Cup Diary from thrilling final

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Almandin found that little bit extra to provide both jockey Kerrin McEvoy and trainer Robert Hickmott with a second taste of Melbourne Cup glory.

Joint-owner Lloyd Williams is a ubiquitous presence upon the winner’s podium and was claiming a fifth victory in the so-called “race that stops a nation”.

Godolphin were responsible for five runners in their pursuit to win the Melbourne Cup, with the Hartnell third – some four and a quarter lengths away from the main protagonists – and Charlie Appleby’s Qewy a staying-on fourth.










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