By Jon Lees
Australia: Craig Williams has landed the mount on the British stayer and Melbourne Cup favourite Spanish Mission.
Williams, who won the race two years ago on Vow And Declare, has committed to partnering the Andrew Balding-trained horse in both Australian engagements, the Caulfield Cup on October 16 and at Flemington on November 2.
Williams, speaking to RSN, said: “Now that the weights have been released, we had more information, and when we got a phone call from Andrew Balding to tell us his situation I had that discussion with my manager, and we decided to lock in Spanish Mission for both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.”
Yorkshire and Doncaster Cup winner Spanish Mission, owned by Team Valor and Gary Barber, underlined his credentials when going down by a head to Stradivarius in a pulsating climax to the Lonsdale Cup in August.
Williams added: “He’s travelled to Saudi Arabia, Dubai on a couple of occasions and he does like fast ground for a European horse. So, he does tick a lot of boxes where my manager and I were comfortable to accept the offer.”
The 44-year-old Williams, rider of nearly 2,000 winners, 61 at G1 level, has picked up another prized mount in Zaaki, due to continue his build up to the Cox Plate in Saturday’s G1 Underwood Stakes at Sandown, with regular jockey James McDonald unable to travel from Sydney due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The Underwood will be the first of three starts in Melbourne for Zaaki and Williams got to know the ex-Sir Michael Stoute-trained horse in a spin over the course on Tuesday.
Lexus Melbourne Cup betting (Ladbrokes): 7 Spanish Mission, 8 Incentivise, 10 Dawn Patrol, 14 Realm Of Flowers, 16 Explosive Jack, Gold Trip, Twilight Payment, 20 bar