The 156th running of the Melbourne Cup produced a stirring finish up the Flemington home straight, an Aussie trained winner, ridden by a well known home jockey in front of a carnival crowd of just under 100,000.
Anthony Freedman (Pictured Right), who helped us with a preview, now kindly helps us with a review.
Almandin was the German bred horse, who in the hands of experienced jockey and soon to be a father again, Kerrin McEvoy saw off the challenge of the Irish raider, Heartbreak City by a head.
The two protagonists were never far apart, both were near the back of the twenty four runner field until they made their move down the middle about 3 furlongs from home. A furlong and half from home Heartbreak City took the lead from the favourite Hartnell. Despite snatching a 1 length advantage Almandin was soon upsides and in a driving finish Kerrin McEvoy just got up to deny Brazilian Joao Moreira on the Tony Martin trained Ebor winner, to break the hearts of the Irish contingent. Hartnell eventually finished 3rd four and quarter lengths further back.
“It was a much better paced race than last year. Last year was ridiculously slow” said trainer Anthony Freedman. “A good winner, who got in very light, so potentially could be hard to beat next year as his weight could keep him competitive” remarked Freedman.
Almandin was sired by the highly regarded Monsun, whose progeny Fiorente (2013) and Protectionist (2014) both won Australia’s premier racing prize. The six year old gelding began his racing career in Europe, running in both France and Germany. Prior to his move to Australia in 2016 the bay’s best performance came when he won the Group 2 Grosser Preis der Badischen Unternehmen at Baden Baden, in June 2014, where he defeated Protectionist by three quarters of a length over 1 mile 3 furlongs. Amongst the previous winners of this group two contest are Star Appeal (1974 & 1975) and Danedream (2012), who both went on to win the Prix de L’arc de Triomphe. As a three year old Almandin had also finished 2nd in a Longchamp listed race behind the Freddy Head trained star miler Solow.
For McEvoy, who is married to the sister of the 2015 winning rider Michelle Payne, it was his second win in the race. His other victory came in 2000 on Brew, which represents the largest time span for a jockey between his first and second triumphs. McEvoy is well known to British race goers as he had a spell with the Godolphin Team and won the St Leger in 2004. Almandin's owner, Lloyd Williams, set a new record becoming the first to win the cup 5 times, whilst trainer, Robert Hickmott, was following up his 2010 success with Green Moon.
Charlie Appleby’s, Qewy in the Royal blue Godolphin silks finished best of the British runners in 4th, whose other home runners Beautiful Romance (7th), Oceanographer (12th) and Secret Number (21st) were down the field. Michael Bell’s Big Orange weakened late on to finish 10th. The elusive British cup win remains, but I am sure the Brits will be back again in force in 2017. The other Irish entrants Bondi Beach (13th) and Wicklow Brave (22nd) failed to make any impression.
The Day also failed to sparkle for Freedman racing’s duo, Exospheric and Our Ivanhowe who came 8th and 17th respectively. Anthony Freedman thought that the ground was too firm for Group 1 winner, Our Ivanhowe, who had been 10th in 2015. As for the former Michael Stoute trained horse Exospsheric Anthony said “I was happy with the run but will keep the horse to between a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half in future”. He didn’t think either horse would be back at Flemington for next year’s race. He added “Our horses won't race again till Feb / March at earliest”.
Away from the Melbourne Cup I asked Anthony about the Australian super mare Winx who recently won her second Cox Plate at Caulfield which extended her winning run to thirteen races. If you trained her would you consider a trip to Royal Ascot? “Probably not, there is more money here and easier races to win” said Anthony. Anthony, who enjoyed a trip to Royal Ascot this summer; where his brother, Lee, trained Miss Andretti to win the 2007 King’s Stand Stakes.
Thanks again Anthony for your help with this blog.
Thanks also to Darren Bird 'Birdie' for his illustration and to Catherine Henshaw for her Melbourne Cup photos.