Sydney Cup favourite Almandin will join a select group if he is successful in the time-honoured Group One staying feature at Randwick.
Only six horses have won both a Melbourne Cup and a Sydney Cup in the rich history of both races.
The imported Almandin won the 2016 Melbourne Cup (3200m) and was unplaced when equal favourite in his Cup defence at Flemington last spring.
After winning the Group One Tancred Stakes last start over 2400m at Rosehill, Almandin will be out to become the first horse since legendary stayer Makybe Diva in 2004 to add a Sydney Cup to a Melbourne Cup win.
Makybe Diva won the Sydney Cup in the same season as her first Melbourne Cup, before adding another two Melbourne Cups in the springs of 2004 and 2005.
Galilee (1966 Melbourne Cup-1967 Sydney Cup), Straight Draw (1957-58) and Lord Cardigan (1903-04) won the Melbourne Cup and Sydney Cup in the same season, while Carbine won two Sydney Cups in 1889 and 1890 before adding a Melbourne Cup in 1890.
Almandin will be trying to do what The Barb was able to in the 1860s, win a Sydney Cup more than a year after winning the Melbourne Cup.
The Barb won the 1866 Melbourne Cup before winning back-to-back Sydney Cups in 1868 and 1869.
Champion jockey Damien Oliver reunites with Almandin after Kerrin McEvoy was aboard for the Tancred Stakes win.
Oliver rode Almandin in his first two starts this campaign, including a luckless fourth in the Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington.
“He felt great in the Australian Cup,” Oliver said.
“Obviously that track was a biased track but he proved last start he’s going really well. So he should be really competitive again.
“From a good gate you could really ride him where you want to.”
Almandin races in the colours of prominent owner Lloyd Williams who has won two of the past five Sydney Cups with Gallante (2016) and Mourayan (2013).
Almandin has 57kg and has to give between 2kg and 7kg to his rivals.
“He’s earned it,” Oliver said.
“He’s a Melbourne Cup winner. It’s not an insurmountable weight, I don’t think, for sure.”
Almandin was at $4.20 on Friday ahead of New Zealand stayer Sir Charles Road ($6.50) while Almandin’s stablemate Aloft, to be ridden by McEvoy at 51kg, was at $7.
“I do have a healthy respect for Lloyd’s other horse, Aloft,” Oliver said.
“He’s very well-weighted and he’s a nice up-and-coming horse. And when the Macedon Lodge team target those sorts of races, you’ve really got to respect their judgment.”
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