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Almandin is the early favourite for Saturday's Zipping Classic

Last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Almandin is the early favourite to give prominent owner Lloyd Williams another win in the race named for his former star galloper Zipping.

A field of eight was declared for Saturday’s Group Two Zipping Classic (2400m) on Wednesday, with Almandin one of three horses in the race who are part-owned by Williams.

Almandin finished 12th when equal favourite in his Melbourne Cup defence last Tuesday week and is at $2.60 for the weight-for-age race at Sandown.

The Darren Weir-trained Big Duke, who was fourth in the Melbourne Cup last start, is second favourite at $3.30, just ahead of the Williams-owned The Taj Mahal ($3.70).

Williams also has $13 chance Assign in the $300,000 race.

Zipping won the event four times from 2007 to 2010 when known as the Sandown Classic before it was renamed in his honour.

Williams has also won with Legible in 2003 and Tanby in 2012.

Damien Oliver will be back aboard Almandin after missing last week’s Melbourne Cup because of an improper riding suspension incurred in last month’s Cox Plate.

Oliver returns from suspension on Friday night at Moonee Valley and his book of rides on Saturday also includes the Mick Price-trained Octabello in the Group Two Sandown Guineas.

The Robbie Laing-trained So Si Bon was a late nomination for the Zipping Classic and will be running in the race for the second time after finishing fourth last year as a three-year-old.

Trainer Symon Wilde has stuck to his initial plan to accept for Dodging Bullets in Saturday’s Group Three Eclipse Stakes (1800m) over the Zipping Classic while Godolphin’s Nozomi was also dual nominated but will run in the Eclipse.

“We’d thought about the Zipping Classic, but I feel he’s better suited at the shorter trip on a track like this,” Nozomi’s trainer Anthony Freedman said.

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