“Anybody can sympathise with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathise with a friend’s success.”
Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism
What do you give the man who has won the Melbourne Cup four times (Just a Dash 1981, What a Nuisance 1985, Efficient 2007 and Green Moon 2012)? For Lloyd Williams, the emphatic answer was a fifth from German galloper Almandin on the first Tuesday in November.
The 76-year-old Lloyd (a Xavier College boy) took his last two trophies to the 58th Annual Racing Fraternity Mass at St Francis’ Church in Melbourne on Sunday.
They were taken to the altar along with the bread and wine and other racing gear during the offertory procession “reminding us of the courage of the horse and rider, the skills of the trainers, the support of the owners; all symbolic of God’s gifts gratefully received and offered to the Lord.”
Almandin, ridden by Kerrin McEvoy and trained by Robert Hickmott, beat Heartbreak City and Godolphin’s favourite Hartnell in a brilliant finish.
McEvoy — who previously won the Cup on Brew in 2000 — made a perfectly-timed run to hit the front after the top of the straight, as Almandin and Heartbreak City, ridden by Joao Moreira, settled down to fight out the finish with Hartnell just behind.
Williams won for the fifth time following the successes of Just a Dash (1981), What a Nuisance (1985), Efficient (2007) and Green Moon (2012).
He passes owners Etienne de Mestre, John Tait and Dato Tan Chin Nam.
McEvoy broke the record for the longest gap between Cup winners for a jockey with his first win in 16 years. He was delighted by the winning run and paid tribute to Williams.
“Gee, he travelled well. How lucky am I mate?” he told Channel Seven.
“He won in October there, and going into the race he (Williams) just gave him a nice freshen up.
“I’d like to thank Lloyd and Rob Hickmott for giving me the chance.”
McEvoy’s wife Cathy – whose sister Michelle rode Prince of Penzance to victory in last year’s Cup – is due to give birth to the couple’s third child.
At the presentation, McEvoy thanked her “for putting up with me the last few weeks.”
Williams said the win was a special one given the run of injuries Almandin has suffered since joining the Hickmott stable in 2014.
“This horse, (he) had a tendon (and) he was broken down,” Williams told Channel Seven.
“No, it’s quite emotional about this one. The boys have done a fabulous job with getting this horse back.”
Almandin came into Cup calculations with a comfortable win in last month’s Bart Cummings Stakes over 2500 metres at Flemington.
“When we thought it had a chance after it won the Cummings Stakes, we asked the others would they like to come into it,” Williams said.
“We thought it had a real Melbourne Cup chance. We popped it in after we thought it could win – gave them (owners) a chance to be in the Melbourne Cup.”
Schadenfreude on the day went to Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – the billionaire Dubai ruler, United Arab Emirates Prime Minister and Godolphin owner – who is yet to win a Melbourne Cup in 18 years of trying despite having spent well over $1 billion in pursuit of racing Holy Grail. His horses finished third and fourth.
Our battler hearts bleed for him!
And our ears bled on hearing Dami Im’s painful rendition of Celine Dion’s asinine 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics anthem with which we were assailed before the big race. God knows
God knows the original was excruciating enough.
Terence Maher is a former editor of The Melbourne Times. His media accreditation with Racing Victoria was terminated with extreme prejudice on August 1, 2016.
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