The mountain, not the Randwick race – Lloyd Williams has pulled the plug on Latrobe for the next running of the Melbourne Cup out of concern that the stage and the distance is too much for the horse, he of just seven jumps.
The Irish colt seems to do just fine, so long as the race is of 2414 metres. His two wins have been a maiden and the Group 1 Irish Derby at that distance. He also did well at 2816 metres in the Irish St. Leger, running second of six to Flag Of Honour at Curragh.
It may be an over-abundance of caution of the part of Williams, or it could be simple pragmatism in putting resources toward another cause in the only race about which Williams seems to really care.
Williams will still have top-liner Yucatan in the Cup. That stallion has won at 2400 metres in his most recent race, the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield. When Williams et al pulled Yucatan from the Caulfield Cup, there was no small amount of whinging.
He will also have The Cliffsofmoher in the Melbourne Cup.
With the big race just a bit beyond a week out, Yucatan is being offered at $5 by many of the online bookies, while The Cliffsofmoher is priced at $16, trailing magic Circle at $10, two, Avilius and Best Solution at $12 and two at $14, Cross Counter and Muntahaa.
Those odds will shift as the field is winnowed and again as the barriers are announced, but neither of Williams’’ horses could be viewed as rank outsiders, as a race with 24 runners is a handicapper’s nightmare.
Rekindling, the 2017 Melbourne Cup winner, jumped at $15, half a length in front of Johannes Vermeer and three ahead of Max Dynamite.
Co-favourite going into the race, Marmelo was well back in ninth, but trainer Hughie Morrison is bring him back for this year’s race and will again use Hughie Bowman for his jockey.