Melb Cup de­fence be­gins

The Sportsman Weekend - - Detailed Formguide For Moonee Valley - By CRAIG BREN­NAN

THE ti­tle de­fence of Mel­bourne Cup win­ner Almandin be­gins in a 2040m-hand­i­cap at Moonee Val­ley with Ben Mel­ham to ride.

The Lloyd Wil­liams-owned stayer hasn’t raced since de­feat­ing Heart­break City in last year’s Cup at Flem­ing­ton with Ker­rin McEvoy aboard.

Almandin has drawn bar­rier five in to­mor­row’s MSC Signs Hand­i­cap and will be rid­den by Ben Mel­ham.

It Mel­ham’s first ride on the eight-year-old.

“I can’t of­fer much more than what any­one else knows about him,” Mel­ham said.

“I haven’t rid­den him in any of his work but it’s a good op­por­tu­nity to be rid­ing the horse in his re­turn run.”

Mel­ham rode with suc­cess for Wil­liams dur­ing the au­tumn car­ni­val.

He rode As­sign to vic­tory in the Neville Sell­wood Stakes at Rand­wick and was aboard The United States who fin­ished third in the Group 1 Ran­vet Stakes at Rose­hill.

“I had a bit of luck rid­ing for Lloyd dur­ing the au­tumn,” Mel­ham said.

“He’s got some nice horses head­ing to­wards the spring so it’s a good sta­ble to be rid­ing for.”

Mel­ham heads to Sydney this morn­ing (Fri­day) part­ner Golden Slip­per win­ner She Will Reign in an 800m-trial at War­wick Farm.

The jockey said he was look­ing for­ward to again part­ner­ing the filly who gave him his big­gest win.

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