Melbourne Cup winner Almandin has started his title defence with a pleasing first-up second at Moonee Valley.
Having his first start since winning last year’s Cup, Almandin finished second behind the Darren Weir-trained Pacodali in the MSC Signs Handicap.
Sent of a $10 chance under Ben Melham, Almandin was beaten three-quarters-of-a-length by the well-backed $2.90 favourite.
Outsider Foundation ($41) was a further three-quarters-of-a-length away third.
Co-owner Nick Williams said the performance over 2040m was about what the stable expected pre-race.
“In all seriousness he had 61 kilos and was thrown into this race being a quality handicap, so you like to see him running a nice race,” Williams said.
“Benny gave him a nice ride, had him in a nice rhythm and he finished off pretty well in a first-up effort.
“You couldn’t be happier.”
Williams said his father Lloyd and racing manager Malcolm McLaren would no doubt have a program mapped out towards November’s Melbourne Cup.
But Williams said the gelding would need to improve on last year’s Cup as he’s going to get considerably more weight than the 52kg he carried to victory.
Williams said after a break following his Cup success, Almandin had a campaign in the autumn but by the time he was ready to race the stable couldn’t find a suitable race that fitted.
“We gave him another couple of weeks off and started again,” Williams said.
“These older horses you keep them going most the time with little breaks along the way.
“They don’t go to the paddock in the traditional sense.”