Dettori looks to end Melbourne Cup wait on Almandin

Dettori looks to end Melbourne Cup wait on Almandin

Dettori looks to end Melbourne Cup wait on Almandin

Frankie Dettori will look to end a quarter-century of frustration in Australia’s most prestigious horse race when the flamboyant jockey rides last year’s winner and favorite Almandin in the A$6.2 million Melbourne Cup on Nov. 7.

The 46-year-old Italian has won virtually every trophy of significance in thoroughbred racing but victory in the grueling two-mile handicap at Flemington Racecourse has proved elusive.

Dettori made his Melbourne Cup debut with a ninth place finish on Drum Taps back in 1993 and has only two placings from his 15 campaigns, second place on Dynamite in the 2015 running his most recent near-miss.

Serendipity has played a part in this year’s bid, with Australian jockey and three-times Cup winner Damien Oliver losing his ride on the race favorite after being suspended for 20 races for “improper riding” during the lead-up Cox Plate.

Local businessman Lloyd Williams, who captured a record fifth Cup win as an owner when Kerrin McEvoy rode gelding Almandin to victory in a sprint last year, was quick to swoop on the Italian as a replacement.

“Obviously I am very grateful that I have the ride on Almandin, although it was in difficult circumstances. I am very sad for Damien Oliver,” Dettori wrote in a blog for a sponsor.

“I have been good friends with Lloyd Williams for over 20 years and he takes me under his wing every time I come to Australia.”
Dettori’s CV notwithstanding, history is against German-bred Almandin’s bid for back-to-back wins.

Only four horses have achieved the feat in the race’s 156-year history, with the great Makybe Diva the last with a hat-trick of trophies from 2003-05.

Long shots have often raced away with the prize, including Prince of Penzance which defied 100-1 odds in the 2015 running and made jockey Michelle Payne the first woman to ride a Cup winner.

Dettori will also be up against a raft of top quality foreign-trained entrants including the Aidan O’Brien-prepared Johannes Vermeer, a 10-1 shot.

Irish master trainer O’Brien has enjoyed a stellar year and set a world record for top-level wins when Saxon Warrior won the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster last month.

There will be a battle for bragging rights in the O’Brien family, though, with Aidan’s son Joseph preparing entrants US Army Ranger and Rekindling.

Darren Weir-trained Humidor is the top-rated locally-prepared contender after impressing in a runner-up finish behind champion sprinter Winx at the leadup Cox Plate.