Almandin returns bigger and better
DAMIEN Oliver branded last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Almandin a better horse in 2017 after he destroyed his rivals to win the Japan Racing Association Handicap at Flemington yesterday.
And his part-owner Nick Williams didn’t rule out Almandin running in the Caulfield Cup before he defends his Melbourne Cup title.
“I wouldn’t want to encourage any punter to back him in the Caulfield Cup but I wouldn’t want to dissuade them either,” Williams said.
During the week Racing Victoria amended the rules surrounding Caulfield Cup winners being penalised for the Melbourne Cup as any Caulfield Cup winner who carries 56kg or more cannot be penalised for Flemington.
Almandin has 56.5kg in both cups.
Although Almandin carried the huge impost of 61kg yesterday in the 2500m race, he left his rivals in his wake, being eased down to win by two-and-three-quarter lengths.
Jockey Oliver couldn’t have been more impressed.
“Wow. That was extraordinary,” he said.
“He’s come back better than ever. It’s been a long time since I’ve ridden a stayer where I’ve had my feet on the dashboard so far from home.”
Last year Oliver rode Almandin to win the Harry White Classic at Caulfield and then the Bart Cummings before losing the Melbourne Cup-winning ride to Kerrin McEvoy as he couldn’t make the weight.
“I’m now three for three on him,” Oliver said.
Williams was taken by surprise with the ease of the win.
“The way he just cruised past them with 61 kilograms was a pretty good effort, wasn’t it?” he said.
Williams said they hadn’t decided Almandin’s spring path to the Melbourne Cup.
“It’s very simple — the horse will tell us where he goes,” Williams said.
“Whether it’s the Bart Cummings, whether it’s the Herbert Power, whether it’s the Caulfield Cup, whether it’s the Cox Plate, whether it’s the Moonee Valley Cup. That decision will be made in due course.”
Team Williams supplied the trifecta with Crocodile Rock and Aloft.
Almandin ($5) beat Crocodile Rock ($3.60) by two and three quarter lengths, with Aloft ($10) a short neck away.
EMPHATIC: Almandin cruises to victory at Flemington.