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.
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.
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.
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.