Melbourne Cup 2017 still a long way away for Aloft

Posted by Sports News First on 5/8/2017
Filled in: Racing

A winter handicap over 2000m at Flemington is not the usual formline for a Melbourne Cup winner.

That was discounted 12 months ago when Almandin won Australia’s greatest race.

Saturday’s 1 Oliver Street Plate, won by Aloft, a race Almandin ran last in 12 months ago, may again be a Melbourne Cup pointer.

Ridden by Ben Melham, Aloft ($4.60) scored a three-quarter length win over Second Bullet ($5.50) with Galaxy Raider ($8) a head away third.

Williams’s son Nick said Aloft would be given his chance to progress to better spring staying races.

“It’s a long way from August to the Melbourne Cup 2017,” Williams said.

“You only have to look at Almandin this time last year when no-one was talking about him with the Melbourne Cup in mind.

“It’s only now that he’s won a Melbourne Cup that people are looking back at this meeting.”

Irish-bred Aloft is into his third Australian campaign.

After two starts last spring the Williams team put Aloft away before he won first-up at Flemington in March.

He then went to Sydney and ran third in the Chairman’s Handicap in April.

“We like to get our horses fit as early as we can early in the season and keep them ticking over,” Williams said.

“There’s a lot of options here and in Sydney for him so we’ll see how the horse is and where he gets to.”

Melham said Aloft possessed a lot of class and had furnished into a nice stayer.

“He did a little wrong last time I rode him but he settled nicely today,” Melham said.

The Williams-owned Bondi Beach, unplaced in the past two Melbourne Cups, finished ninth behind Aloft under Damien Oliver who said the gelding needed more ground.

“He’s still a bit ring rusty and needs to build his fitness,” Oliver said.

Oliver also rode Amralah for Williams, 12th in the John and Denise Cobcroft Recognition Handicap, who was having his first start since winning the Herbert Power at Caulfield in October, 2015.