Jockey Kerrin McEvoy (right) and trainer Robert Hickmott celebrate after Almandin won the 2016 Melbourne Cup.
Jockey Kerrin McEvoy (right) and trainer Robert Hickmott celebrate after Almandin won the 2016 Melbourne Cup. DAVID CROSLING

Williams lavishes praise on stable's staff after victory

ALMANDIN gave a glimpse of his promise when beating Protectionist by three-quarters of a length in June 2014.

But, in a stark contrast of fortunes, Almandin wouldn't race for another two years, while Protectionist would go on and win the 2014 Melbourne Cup five months later.

Bought by Lloyd Williams and sent to Australia to work under trainer Robbie Hickmott, the German galloper proved to be injury-prone.

Patience, however, would pay off for the team at Williams' Macedon Lodge stables, with the now seven-year-old yesterday joining Protectionist as a Melbourne Cup winner.

The gelding returned to competitive racing in the winter, before stepping up to claim the Harry White Classic (2400m) and the Bart Cummings Stakes (2500m) during the Spring Carnival, making it four wins from just 11 starts.

Williams yesterday paid tribute to his "amazing staff” at Macedon Lodge, which has provided the veteran owner with a record fifth Cup win.

"To have a team which has taken this horse, which was broken down after we brought him from Germany - he had a tendon injury, but they rehabilitated him - it's an amazing staff performance,” Williams said.

"We are very, very fortunate. (Son) Nick and I would not be successful unless we had the team we've had.

"We've got a very good property but it's the human resource that we have that has taken us to this level today.”

Before yesterday's thrilling triumph over second-place-getter Heartbreak City, Almandin had collected $349,958 in prizemoney - $3.6 million has since been added.

"We've got a very brave horse,” Williams said. "This horse is been set for this race since as far back as July. But he's gone through all the various pain barriers and I'm very proud of him.”

Williams revealed he would not let winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy ride him before the great race.

"He begged me to give me a ride on him,” he said. "(But) I'm superstitious about jockeys riding horses' trackwork, (so) I didn't let him.”

After training Green Moon to victory in 2012, Hickmott (pictured with winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy) now has as many Cup wins as AFL games he played with Melbourne in 1990.

A legend in country Victorian footy with the Wangaratta Rovers, Hickmott turned to horse racing in the late '90s.

"He's been with me for probably 15 years now,” Williams said of the trainer.

"There is no better person as an employee of a racing stable and I'm a very, very difficult boss, I have to tell you.”

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