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Large team for Williams in Melbourne Cup

Nick Williams at Werribee trackwork.
Nick Williams says his father Lloyd could have as many as seven Melbourne Cup runners.

Chasing a sixth win in the Melbourne Cup, owner Lloyd Williams could have as many as seven runners in the famous race.

Team Williams has eight runners inside the top 30 of the 36 horses still in contention for next Tuesday’s race at Flemington with six safely inside the field limit of 24.

Victory by Aloft in Saturday’s Lexus Stakes (2500m) would see the stayer leapfrog into the field.

International gallopers Johannes Vermeer, Rekindling and US Army Ranger will be joined by last year’s Cup winner Almandin and Bondi Beach while a start is dependant on the weather for Gallante.

Williams’ son Nick said the team would delay their decision on Gallante until the last minute on Saturday when Cup acceptances are finalised.

“Gallante being the wet-tracker he is there’s some chance there could be quite a lot of rain on Monday and Tuesday and we’re keeping our options open with him,” Williams said.

Riders are still to be finalised for half the team with Corey Brown booked for Rekindling, Ben Melham on Johannes Vermeer and Frankie Dettori on Almandin.

Williams said it was a difficult choice landing on a jockey for Almandin.

Dettori has ridden only once for Williams, finishing third on Order Of St George in last year’s l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

“We’ve had a great association with Frankie for over 20 years and in fact dad hosted Frankie and his wife on their honeymoon down here 20 something years ago and they’ve been firm friends ever since,” Williams said.

“He’s very excited about winning the race and we’re excited to have him on the horse.

“It wasn’t an easy decision as we had every rider in world wanting to ride him.”

Williams said Rekindling, Johannes Vermeer and Almandin were at the top of the pecking order but insisted Bondi Beach was pleasing the team at home while US Army Ranger was still a mystery horse.

He reported Almandin galloped well on Wednesday at the family’s property at Mt Macedon and would love to see the stayer win back-to-back Cups.

“But that wouldn’t mean I wouldn’t be as thrilled if any of the other horses won,” Williams said.

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