Dettori to Ride Almandin in Melbourne Cup

Frankie Dettori will ride the Lloyd Williams-owned Almandin (Ger) (Monsun {Ger}) in the Nov. 7 G1 Melbourne Cup at Flemington. The Italian benefits from the suspension of Damien Oliver, who was handed a 20-day ban after his ride of Happy Clapper (Aus) (Teofilo {Ire}) in the G1 Cox Plate on Oct. 28. The 2016 Melbourne Cup hero has claimed the Listed Japan Racing Association Trophy on Sept 16 and was fourth in the G3 Bart Cummings on Oct. 7, both over 2500 metres at Flemington this year from three starts. The Robert Hickmott-trained 7-year-old is the $7 favourite to repeat in the 3200-metre feature. This year will be Dettori’s 16th attempt, and his best finish to date has been a brace of runner-up performances–with Max Dynamite (Fr) (Great Journey {Jpn}) in 2015 and Central Park (Ire) (In The Wings {GB}) in 1999.

Part-owner Nick Williams told Sky Sports Radio, “Frankie Dettori [will ride]. Dad had a couple of sleepless nights thinking about it. I guess he ultimately thought why not get a man who’s won nine Group 1s for the season. He’s in fine form, he’s going to the Breeders’ Cup and he knows how to ride these staying horses. He hasn’t won a Melbourne Cup yet, but I think the thing that probably swayed him [his father] was that Frankie openly said in an interview about three months ago in Europe that if he could achieve one more thing in racing, it would be to win the Melbourne Cup.”

Continued Williams, “You’ve got a man who’s desperate to do it and dad, he and myself have had a huge association for probably 20 years. We know him well and we think he’ll give him a good ride. You can see in his races he settles well, he goes when you want him to go and he comes back underneath you when you want him to do that as well. He’s an older horse now, he’s well experienced and I don’t think Frankie will have any trouble with him. We’re thrilled to have him on the horse.”

Godolphin could still have two runners in the Melbourne Cup if last year’s fourth Qewy (Ire) (Street Cry {Ire}) can bounce back to his best in Wednesday’s Bendigo Cup. Hartnell (GB) (Authorized {Ire}) is set to shoulder top weight at Flemington for Godolphin, but the Charlie Appleby-trained Qewy could also take his chance should he run well at Bendigo.

“It’s all guns blazing for Bendigo and we’ll see where we stand after that,” Appleby’s traveling head foreman Chris Connett told “Hopefully he goes and wins nicely at Bendigo and then that opens the door for Melbourne. If he doesn’t, then that might close the door.”

A total of 36 horses remain in contention for the Cup following the second acceptance stage on Monday. Hugo Palmer’s Wall Of Fire (Ire) (Canford Cliffs {Ire}) has moved to 24th in the order with only the winner of Saturday’s 2500m G3 Lexus S. able to push him out of the final field if there are no further withdrawals by Saturday evening. Willie Mullins’s Thomas Hobson (GB) (Halling) is now 26th.

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