Williams declares he can win Cup with local
THE all-Australia combination of trainer Danny O'Brien and star jockey Craig Williams believe Vow And Declare is the horse to keep the international army at bay and win the $8 million Melbourne Cup.
Anxiety turned to delight for premiership-winning hoop Williams when the four-year-old was elevated in to the field this week. He had declared to his wife after finishing second in the Caulfield Cup that he had the horse to secure his first Melbourne Cup.
Vow And Declare looms as the best Australian chance of keeping the powerful international hordes at bay amid growing fears the visitors have a stranglehold on the great race.
O'Brien also labelled his four-year-old a contender local racing fans could identify with and not a "fly-in" runner, an international brought by local owners and trainers to guarantee them a Cup start.
"He's a horse they have watched since his first race start in Bendigo," O'Brien said on Tuesday. "He's raced in Melbourne, raced in Queensland, they've seen him run well in the Caulfield Cup so they understand he is a legitimate Melbourne Cup hope.
"If Vow And Declare can win, it will probably mean a lot more than any horses they haven't had an attachment to.
"A lot of local stables are buying international horses that have the right weight to get the run and it's pushing locally trained horses further down the order. There's not many trainers who have a locally grown horse they have trained from day one in the race."
Cup favourite Constantinople was bought from Ireland by trainer David Hayes earlier this year, and wealthy Melbourne owners purchased this year's Irish St Leger winner Southern France in September and sent him to trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace.
Despite running second in the Caulfield Cup, Vow And Declare, which has rocketed in to $13 for the Melbourne Cup, only secured a start on Monday after several horses were absent from third declarations.
It ended what Williams called an "anxious time" given he had locked in to ride Vow And Declare having opted against trying to find an international mount.
"We had discussions, me and my manager, and we thought to win a Melbourne Cup you had to be riding a European horse," Williams said after galloping Vow And Declare at Flemington on Tuesday morning.
"We thought we had to hitch our wagon to an import, so all our early work was scoping out European horses and Japanese horses. But I am absolutely happy to be riding him and he's one horse who can take it to these Europeans".
"I was thrilled to be partnering him after his Caulfield Cup run, then it was the agonising wait, wondering if he had to run again.
"When we were in, all of a sudden, the mood lifted, and to work him this morning, I can't wait for the Cup."
Waller counting on inside draw for Finche
Drawing an inside barrier is on trainer Chris Waller's Melbourne Cup wish list after watching his leading contender Finche endure a "torrid" run in the Caulfield Cup.
A spring campaign which began with a second in the Turnbull Stakes was followed by a bold fifth in the Caulfield Cup for the big-striding six-year-old son of Frankel who was trapped wide for most of the 2400m race after starting from barrier 15.
Finche finished fourth in last year's Melbourne Cup and having enlisted the help of three-time Cup-winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy to ride this year, Waller hoped the barrier draw went his way.
"He went terrific in the Caulfield Cup. It was great to see him hang on as close as he did to the winner consider the torrid run he had," Waller said after McEvoy galloped Finche at Flemington on Tuesday morning, his last big piece of work before the Melbourne Cup.
"He was three-wide throughout and forced to go very early. It's not the ideal run when you are not peaking at the winning post.
"He's a lovely big striding horse. If you get a draw he can take a nice position, switch off well. We saw last year he ran fourth (in the Melbourne Cup). Flemington is no problem. I think it suits most horses and gives them their best chance."
McEvoy said the 3200m of the Melbourne Cup would be "spot on" for Finche, which is $11 in the TAB Melbourne Cup market.
"We all know Caulfield Cups are different to Melbourne Cups," McEvoy said. "And the two miles will be spot on for him."
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