Melbourne Cup: Williams magic carries day

By Mike Dillon

Well-deserved win for Alcopop after Ocean Park has to challenge too early.

The unemotional demeanour, the suit, the tie and the sunglasses were the same as when Ocean Park won last week's A$3.5 million Cox Plate.

It could have been a repeat snapshot, except for a slight tightness around the mouth to tell the Gary Hennessy story after Ocean Park was beaten into third in Saturday's Mackinnon Stakes as the $1.70 favourite. Hennessy stood quietly in the Flemington birdcage as Glen Boss, as expected more obvious with his facial disappointment, brought Ocean Park back behind Alcopop and Glass Harmonium.

Hennessy was quick to deflect any suggestion of disappointment, even though it had to be there in the non-demonstrative Matamata horseman.

"Well, we only ever saw this as a consolation race," was his only comment.

From a distance, the knockers were quicker and more vocal: "Why would he run him a week after winning the Cox Plate?"

It was difficult to say Ocean Park was disappointing. No one could deny Alcopop his big win, but a magician's ride by Craig Williams played a massive part.

A year ago Glen Boss missed the winning ride on Pinker Pinker in the Cox Plate because of a busted shoulder. Ten days ago, Boss was man enough to admit Pinker Pinker would not have won because he would have chosen to loop the field rather than waiting for a similar magical rails run for Craig Williams to get up and beat Jimmy Choux.

It might have looked like the same scenario in this race except Boss had several factors to analyse at the 600m. He had Glass Harmonium six lengths clear in front, the importance of that being that Glass Harmonium won the race a year ago with similar tactics.

Could he afford to wait? Probably not and Boss sent Ocean Park forward three wide around the horses in front. Given the 1-2-3 margins of a neck and a long neck, that was without doubt the difference between first and third.

Balancing that slightly, Ocean Park looked to have slightly less zip in his legs from a week earlier and he got third on sheer heart.

Craig Williams deserves massive applause for a ride that had as much cool as it had class. Regardless of the aim, timing is everything in life and Williams had the market cornered mid-afternoon in Melbourne.

• Zydeco looks a good thing for the Victoria Oaks on Thursday.

The Sheikh Mohammed-owned Zabeel filly looked invincible winning Saturday's A$300,000 Wakeful Stakes over 2000m.

The extra 500m on Thursday is not going to be an issue and the $2.25 on offer looks good at this point.

New Zealand filly Kate was given every chance by James McDonald, challenging in the middle of the track on the home turn wilting to finish not far away, but not looking like an Oaks winner.

On their respective efforts there is no way she can beat Zydeco.

The Oaks dangers look like being Dear Demi and the other Zabeel filly in Saturday's field, La Zuma.

Dear Demi is the filly James McDonald gave a big tick to when he partnered her to victory in the Furious Stakes at Warwick Farm in September. He has subsequently been replaced by Jim Cassidy.

Cassidy made a rare and fatal error choosing to aim Dear Demi to an inside run on the home turn when he had the option of following Zydeco around the field from the 600m.

Dear Demi was denied proper racing room for most of the home straight, finishing strongly when in the clear.

La Zuma fell into the same category. She was hampered for gaps for much of the home straight promoting Corey Brown to return and say: "I think she should have won".

Giving the winning margin that might be a bit of a stretch, but you get the point.

How good is the staying blood of Zabeel?

He is a good chance to quinella the Oaks and Dear Demi is bred from the Zabeel mare Shirley.

• Paul Moroney is developing the if you can't beat 'em, join 'em philosophy.

Moroney was one of a handful who helped pioneer the purchase of European stayers to race in Australasia.

He was one of those to wake up to the fact that the English horses now have become far too expensive because of the 'down under' buying pressure.

"I've been knocked back on a number of horses this year because the price has been way over the top," said Moroney at Flemington on Saturday after arriving back from Europe earlier in the morning.

"So, I've gone to buying yearlings up there and joining the other side. I bought seven on this trip."

- NZ Herald

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