Williams excited for ride as Wall Of Fire makes the field
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.