Six-shooter Williams guns for fifth Melbourne Cup
By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Local property magnate and racing enthusiast Lloyd Williams' presence looms large over Tuesday's running of the A$6 million ($5.66 million) Melbourne Cup, with his six entrants hogging a quarter of the field of "the race that stops a nation".
The 73-year-old owner clinched his fourth Melbourne Cup last year on the back of the Robert Hickmott-trained Green Moon but his hunger for Australia's richest and most famous thoroughbred trophy shows little sign of abating.
Green Moon, who defied 22-1 odds and a field of quality European stayers to win the grueling two-mile handicap, returns to Flemington Racecourse to bid for back-to-back Cups, but the seven-year-old stallion is among the less fancied of Williams' sextet.
Sea Moon, Fawkner and Seville are all highly backed to win, with Masked Marvel and Mourayan rated rough chances to salute in front of an expected crowd of more than 100,000.
With all prepared by Williams' trusted trainer Hickmott and only Mourayan drawing outside barrier 10, the tycoon's powerful bid has proved controversial, with English trainer Ed Dunlop raising concerns that the race could be manipulated.
"I hope Mr. Williams isn't allowed to boss this race," Dunlop, who has entered eight-year-old gelding Red Cadeaux for a third tilt, told local media.
"It is not ideal, let's not beat about the bush. We are drawn wide. I think the most interesting thing is Lloyd Williams' horses are all very well drawn."
The reclusive Williams hit back at Dunlop's 'team orders' comments on Monday, describing them as "extremely poor manners". Continued...