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.
Almandin’s Emirates Melbourne Cup victory proves just how difficult it is to win the race that stops the nation. You have to have the right horse and an element of luck comes into this on race day too.
Godolphin’s brightest hope Hartnell was absolutely brilliant, finishing third behind Heartbreak City. The problem was he’s had a really strong campaign – his last run behind Winix was superb – but I think he didn’t stay home for the last few furlongs. This race is two miles and he needs something shorter as he’s a class act over a shorter distance.
Hartnell jockey James MacDonald expressed some frustration after the race and you can understand why. You’re on the favourite, you think you have a huge chance and James– as one of the brightest young jockeys – was desperate to win.
It’s a huge deal. It’s like losing a World Cup final. If you don’t win, you feel dejected. Second or third is not good enough for these guys. They want to win.
The Melbourne Cup is one of Australia’s great sporting events with over 100,000 spectators turning out at Flemington. It’s as big as it gets for racing fans and it means everything to them.
It may not be a grade one race but it has so much history stretching back 156 years. That’s why it’s important for people to win and that’s why James MacDonald is disappointed that he didn’t get his name on the roll of honour.
I was speaking to John Ferguson, CEO and Race Manager for Godolphin, after the race and he said Oceanographer was unable to back up his stunning run on Saturday, but it was always going to be difficult.
Qewy was also superb, and Saeed Bin Suroor’s other two horses – Beautiful Romance and Secret Number – simply weren’t good enough to keep up with the pack.
Hartnell lost nothing in defeat. The top two went so far clear but he did a great job but didn’t have the stamina – this is what the race is all about.
From afar, this race over 3,200 metres has always had a unique fascination for me. My love of racing was generated by watching the Grand National in the United Kingdom but increasingly I have become more and more intrigued and captivated by events at Flemington, no more than a stones throw from the centre of Melbourne.
This has only intensified with each passing year as more and more international raiders make the long journey south to try and earn their place in racing history.
I have to declare a special interest in this year’s renewal as my brother Michael saddles the top weight Big Orange.
A far from disgraced 5th 12 months ago, he comes into the contest reportedly in even better shape. A strong pace should suit but I fear this horse may be undone in the closing stages.
The class Australian horse is Hartnell, one of five representing the Godolphin team. Second to Winx last time out, Australia’s top- rated horse, and with the extremely-talented jockey James Mcdonald is a justifiably the favourite with home fans.
However, that last race just may have taken its toll on him and the horse that I think could take home the AUS $3 million plus (Dh8.4m) first prize is Bondi Beach.
Aidan O’Brien has had a stellar year and the Irish trainer has made this race Bondi Beach’s primary target. Last year it was a bit of an afterthought coming 16th but the talk all week has been extremely bullish about the horse, which is co-owned by Lloyd Williams who has won this race a record-equalling four times as an owner.
The fact he made a rare trip to early morning gallops last week suggests he is optimistic about his chances. Another huge plus is the booking of Ryan Moore, without question the best ‘big race’ jockey in the world and a decent draw in the fifth barrier which means in my mind he will be hard to beat.
My heart hopes that the mighty Big Orange becomes the first British-trained winner of Australia’s greatest race, however my head increasingly tells me Bondi Beach is the one they all have to beat.