'Back to the 80s': Champion owner's diss for Melbourne Cup field

·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Former Melbourne Cup winner Lloyd Williams said the 2021 field was 'not very good' beyond favourite Incentivise. (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)
Former Melbourne Cup winner Lloyd Williams said the 2021 field was 'not very good' beyond favourite Incentivise. (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

If the somewhat muted build-up to this year's Melbourne Cup hadn't been enough of a talking point already, former Cup winner Lloyd Williams made it abundantly clear on Tuesday morning.

For the second year in a row the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic are being felt at the Cup, with a dramatically reduced number of international runners making their way to Flemington.

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After training Twilight Payment to a memorable win last year, Williams said that beyond favourite and Caulfield Cup winner Incentivise, this year's field was 'not that good'.

Incentivise is a $2.90 favourite for the $8 million dollar race, ahead of Spanish Mission ($10), Floating Artist ($13) and Twilight Payment ($14).

Speaking to Radio TAB, Williams said there was no doubt the field had been impacted by uncertainties surrounding border closures heading into the spring carnival.

“One thing I could tell you about this race, leaving out Incentivise, it’s not a very good race,” he said.

“We’re going back now to the ‘80s with this race, taking out Incentivise.

“This is probably no different to when What A Nuisance won in ‘85, they were sort of average handicap stayers.”

Williams added that he believed Twilight Payment could lead the race, but would be heavily reliant on getting a good jump.

Additionally, he said Incentivise should arguably be carrying less weight, an observation he made “with great respect” after suggesting connections had handled its lead-in 'badly'.

“He’s done absolutely nothing wrong. He’s a strong horse," he said.

"(Jockey) Brett Prebble has won a Melbourne Cup for me before, so he knows how to win a Melbourne Cup.

“The day’s not going to get to him. He’s going to be very hard to beat.”

Future Score withdrawn, Melbourne Cup field now 23

Melbourne Cup outsider Future Score has been ruled out of the $8 million race after failing a veterinary test.

One of two runners inspected on race morning, Future Score was withdrawn because of lameness.

Future Score's defection leaves a field of 23 to face the starter in the famous race after Delphi was passed fit.

Delphi, who has met with betting support at longer odds, was lame on Cup eve but satisfied Racing Victoria veterinarians of his soundness before Tuesday's scratching deadline.

The import will be trying to rebound after a Caulfield Cup disappointment and will be ridden by champion jockey Damien Oliver.

Oliver is chasing his fourth Melbourne Cup win.

Twenty-two Cup horses were cleared to race on Monday, including the UK stayer Spanish Mission.

Spanish Mission attracted additional veterinary scrutiny last week before given the all-clear to race ahead of an acceptance deadline on Saturday.

Trainer Matt Cumani was disappointed after his Melbourne Cup runner Future Score was scratched on the morning of the race. (Brett Holburt/Racing Photos via Getty Images)
Trainer Matt Cumani was disappointed after his Melbourne Cup runner Future Score was scratched on the morning of the race. (Brett Holburt/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

Matt Cumani’s runner was reportedly cleared initially before being re-examined after the seven-year-old was found to have lameness in his off fore leg.

Cumani said he was bitterly disappointed by the decision and thought Future Score was fit to race.

"Just very sad for the owners of the horse, we thought he was a better chance than 200-1, he was really peaking for this week," Cumani said.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure on Racing Victoria to be ultra, ultra conservative. And for them it was a real margin call, it went down to 7.29am to make the decision.

“They decided to be ultra-cautious. I can understand their point of view when they don’t know a horse inside out."

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