Wil­liams ex­cited for ride as Wall Of Fire makes the field

The Sportsman Special Issue - - 117 -

A RE­LIEVED Craig Wil­liams will get the chance to chase an elu­sive Mel­bourne Cup on in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tor Wall Of Fire af­ter the stayer made the bal­lot for the race.

The Hugo Palmer-trained Wall Of Fire had been pre­car­i­ously placed in the bal­lot order be­fore a num­ber of horses ahead of him with­drew, in­clud­ing Jon Snow, Qewy and Abbey Marie.

Had he re­mained No. 24, he would have run the risk of the win­ner of Satur­day’s Lexus Stakes Cis­mon­tane over­tak­ing him in the bal­lot as the Lexus win­ner earns a free ticket into the Cup.

Wil­liams has won two Caulfield Cups, two Cox Plates and a Golden Slip­per but a Mel­bourne Cup has eluded him.

He was to ride Du­naden in 2011 but was sus­pended in the lead-up, paving the way for Christophe Le­maire to guide the French stayer to vic­tory.

Wall Of Fire is at $12 in Mel­bourne Cup bet­ting af­ter he closed strongly from last to fin­ish sec­ond in the Her­bert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield in his first Aus­tralian ap­pear­ance last month.

“He’s in now so he’s a great chance,” Wil­liams said.

“I can­tered him around on Fri­day morn­ing and I’m re­ally happy.

“Hugo Palmer ar­rived yes­ter­day and I’ll go and sit on the horse again this morn­ing.”

Wil­liams says the horse has been en­er­getic and want­ing to get on with his work at the Wer­ribee quar­an­tine cen­tre which he takes as a good sign head­ing into Tues­day.

“He’s in great order,” Wil­liams said. “I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to Tues­day now that he’s con­firmed he’s def­i­nitely a starter in the race.

“I was def­i­nitely con­cerned. “So now I’m re­lieved and look­ing for­ward to it.”

Mean­while Gai Water­house will have a run­ner she be­lieves can stem the Euro­pean tide in the Mel­bourne Cup with Cis­mon­tane seal­ing his place with vic­tory in the Lexus over 2500m.

Cis­mon­tane’s stay­ing cre­den­tials were truly tested with Stephen Baster send­ing him straight to the front.

He set up a strong tempo and just when it looked as if he would be swamped, the five-year- old kept go­ing to the line to dent the Cup dreams of con­nec­tions of Vengeur Masque who fin­ished a short neck sec­ond with Pen­tathlon, who briefly looked the win­ner, an­other short head third.

“It’s so ex­cit­ing,” Water­house, who trains in part­ner­ship with Adrian Bott, said.

“He will go to the Cup. That’s been the plan all along.”

Water­house won the Cup (3200m) four years ago with the im­ported Fiorente but Cis­mon­tane is a throw­back to the colo­nial breed by shut­tle stal­lion High Cha­parral out of NZ mare Vi­viane.

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