European stayer puts Williams into orbit
ON A defining day for the three spring majors, European import Green Moon confirmed his place as the leading locally trained Melbourne Cup seed with a determined Turnbull Stakes win to give owner Lloyd Williams an enviably strong hand as the cups draw near.
Williams had already claimed the Craven Plate at Randwick with Mourayan and the Bart Cummings with Tanby before the Turnbull Stakes, and later took the final race at Flemington with Fawkner. But it was Green Moon which emerged as the most serious of feature-race contenders on the day.
"You don't have days like this at the races very often," Williams's son Nick said of the four-win haul.
One of Australian racing's biggest Melbourne Cup devotees, Williams takes his strongest-ever team of stayers towards this year's Cup with Green Moon undoubtedly the headline act.
After a moderate start, jockey Craig Williams elected to push Green Moon forward from a middle gate to stalk the speed, but instead found himself horribly placed three wide with no cover. His saviour was leader Voila Ici, which when left alone in front cruised along at a modest tempo, allowing Williams to creep closer to the turn without working too hard.
Once into the straight and having seen off a one-paced Voila Ici, Williams asked Green Moon for a winning effort and was grateful when the horse responded to establish a winning break. The pair maintained a comfortable long neck margin on stablemate Seville, with a length and a quarter to December Draw in third.
"He couldn't get in but they didn't go fast and being a European horse he actually enjoyed a bit of room and movement. It was really special that win," jockey Williams said.
Already with a strong Melbourne Cup hand, Team Williams also has a major Caulfield Cup player with Irish and French Derby runner-up Seville emerging as a legitimate threat to early favourite Glencadam Gold.
"He has done everything we've asked of him and he deserves to take his place in the Caulfield Cup. He has shown his form in a couple of runs in the autumn and we know what he is," Nick Williams said.
Bookmakers reacted immediately to Green Moon's win, with Centrebet cutting Green Moon's Melbourne Cup price from $15 to $13 second favourite behind Brit Mount Athos, and from $11 into $8 for the Cox Plate. Seville was cut from $51 into $11 in the Caulfield Cup and from a huge $101 into $21 for the Melbourne Cup on the back of his second placing.