Green all over as Irish dominate Melbourne Cup
AIDAN RODLEY IN MELBOURNE
Green took the gold in Australia's greatest horse race.
Not just the Victorian stayer Green Moon, but also the Irish, who remarkably bred the first seven horses home in yesterday's A$6.2 million (NZ$7.8m) Melbourne Cup, run in front of Prince Charles at Flemington.
The imported stayer outstayed his fellow Irish-breds Fiorente and Jakkalberry to provide Melbourne casino magnate Lloyd Williams with his fourth win in the Cup after Just A Dash in 1981, What A Nuisance in 1985 and Efficient in 2007.
An Irish-born son of former Windsor Park Stud shuttle stallion Montjeu, Green Moon had his first eight starts for English trainer Harry Dunlop before he came to Williams' attention and he brought him to Australia to continue his "obsession" with winning the Melbourne Cup.
Obsession was the word Williams' son, Nick, used to describe his father's headlong pursuit of cup success.
Interestingly, the previous time Prince Charles had attended the Melbourne Cup was in 1981 when Just A Dash was triumphant.
Nick Williams, who shares in the ownership of Green Moon with his parents, Lloyd and Suzy, noted that Just A Dash's triumph 27 years earlier had only fuelled his father's ambitions of winning more Melbourne Cups.
As usual, Lloyd Williams wasn't on track to watch the Melbourne Cup, preferring to watch the race from the calmness of home.
"Dad's won this race four times now and it has been something of an obsession for him," Williams said.
"I'm just so proud for all of our team at the farm, of course led by Dad.
"We put a lot of money in and a heck of a lot of effort so to get this result today is fantastic. This is what we bought him for and this has always been the plan."
Green Moon's Melbourne Cup victory was his seventh from 20 starts and took his earnings to just short of A$4.8m. He had been the cup favourite after his Group I win in the Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington last month but he started at $22.50 to win after he could only manage seventh place as the favourite in Ocean Park's Cox Plate.
"The more I watched the Cox Plate - and I've watched it 50 to 100 times since - I actually thought his run was pretty good. And I was proved right today," Williams said.
Hong Kong-based Australian jockey Brett Prebble gave Green Moon the perfect ride in seventh spot, tracking the pace before improving in the straight and hitting the front inside the last 250m.
Fiorente and Waikato jockey James McDonald came strongly late but had to settle for second 1 lengths back.
Jakkalberry produced a monster performance, coming from 15th in running to place for rider Colm O'Donoghue, with the Chris Waller-trained Kelinni holding off a late dash from Mount Athos for fourth.
Having defied the other imports and the international raiders, Williams said it was obvious Europe had become the powerhouse in breeding and nurturing stayers.
"The old New Zealand stayer coming over and winning Melbourne Cups is a thing of the past. It's an international race and the Australian and New Zealand-bred horses just don't cut it any more."
However, Williams conceded the stable's recently retired New Zealand-bred stayer Efficient, whom Hamilton trainer Graeme Rogerson prepared to win the Melbourne Cup, was a superior stayer to Green Moon.
"Efficient, when he's right, would pick up Green Moon and carry him. But horses like Efficient and Might And Power are few and far between."
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