The Cairns Post

Twilight in zone for Cup defence


PROMINENT owner Nick Williams rates Spanish Mission, not raging favourite Incentivis­e, as the “biggest danger” to reigning Melbourne Cup winner Twilight Payment.

Last year’s winner cleared quarantine on Saturday night but must stay at the Werribee Internatio­nal Horse Centre at least until after the Cup on November 2 under new Racing Victoria regulation­s.

Williams has shared in four of father Lloyd’s record seven Cups, including three in the past five years.

Incentivis­e throttled Australia’s best stayers with a breathtaki­ng Caulfield Cup performanc­e and will now square off against world-class opposition for the first time, albeit a smaller contingent than in recent years.

“I’m leaving the favourite out, it might just come out and win by five lengths, I’ve got no idea about it, only looking at exposed form,” Williams said.

“Spanish Mission (inset) is a very good stayer, no question about that, they’ve got 57 (kg) and 58 (kg) for a reason; the two of them deserve it.”

Twilight Payment has top weight 58kg in the Cup, 1kg more than Incentivis­e and Spanish Mission.

“He’s an amazing horse, this, staggers me, so tough, old Twilight,” Williams said.

“He’s a three-year-old colt (at Werribee) he’s that enthusiast­ic, and it’s not as if he’s (lightly raced) … been to every dance and seems to love it.

“In April-May I thought it would be a waste of time even thinking of bringing him back … as the year has gone I’ve really warmed to it and I’ve got to the point now I think he’s as good a chance winning as any.

“With all due respect … it’s not nearly as good a race as it was last year … it’s a substantia­lly narrower race, and I think the way it’s fallen into place he actually looks attractive­ly weighted in it.”

Twilight Payment was runner-up in the Group 1 Irish St Leger on September 12, going one better than last year.

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