The man who has owned more Melbourne Cup winners than anyone else has a thirst for more.
Retired Melbourne businessman Lloyd Williams has six horses in this year’s race on Tuesday including last year’s winner Almandin.
Williams won his first Cup with the TJ Smith-trained Just A Dash in 1981.
After sourcing horses from New Zealand including 2007 winner Efficient, Williams has joined the growing trend to buy from Europe with the southern hemisphere breeding industry concentrated on speed.
Williams son Nick admits the imported Almandin is the sentimental favourite among the family’s half dozen.
“If I could pick who I would love to win, it would be Almandin,” Williams said.
“But that’s because we love this race, 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.”
Until Sunday afternoon punters also supported Almandin but the money started to come for English horse Marmelo.
To be ridden by Hugh Bowman, the Hughie Morrison-trained assumed $8.50 favouritism with Almandin now out to $9.
“Marmelo shortened from $11 into $6.50 equal favourite for the Melbourne Cup after finishing sixth in the Caulfield Cup on October 21, but did ease with horses like Humidor impressing with a runner-up finish to Winx in the Cox Plate,” TAB’s Trent Langskaill said.
“Since getting out to as much as $10, punters have rallied for the five-year-old and Marmelo has now displaced Almandin as the TAB Fixed Odds favourite for Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup.”
Bowman, who has won three Cox Plates on Winx, believes Marmelo is his best chance to win a Melbourne Cup which has presented limited opportunities in the past for the heavyweight jockey.
Another sentimental favourite, the Chris Waller-trained Who Shot Thebarman, was withdrawn on Sunday afternoon with an elevated temperature.
His scratching has reignited the debate regarding emergencies for the Melbourne Cup which now has a field of 23.
A review in 2015 determined it was not commercially viable to accommodate emergencies because of the costs involved.
A record-equalling 11 horses trained in the northern hemisphere are in the field including 2015 runner-up Max Dynamite, one of three runners for Irish trainer Willie Mullins.
Williams’ other runners are Johannes Vermeer, Bondi Beach, US Army Ranger, Gallante and Rekindling.
Almandin, Bondi Beach and Gallante are trained by Williams’ Australian trainer Robert Hickmott while Aidan O’Brien trains Johannes Vermeer and his son Joseph O’Brien is the trainer of US Army Ranger and Rekindling.
There are only two mares in the race, Amelie’s Star and Single Gaze with the latter to be ridden by Kathy O’Hara, the only female jockey in this year’s race.