A relieved Craig Williams will get the chance to chase an elusive Melbourne Cup on international visitor Wall Of Fire after the stayer moved up the ballot order with Qewy’s defection from the race.
The Hugo Palmer-trained Wall Of Fire had been precariously placed at No.24 in the ballot order but Godolphin announced on Friday that Wednesday’s Bendigo Cup winner Qewy would not contest Tuesday’s Cup.
It means Wall Of Fire is now effectively No.23 in the order of entry with a field limit of 24.
Had he remained No.24, he would have run the risk of the winner of Saturday’s Lexus Stakes overtaking him in the ballot as the Lexus winner earns a free ticket into the Cup.
Williams has won two Caulfield Cups, two Cox Plates and a Golden Slipper but a Melbourne Cup has eluded him.
He was to ride Dunaden in 2011 but was suspended in the lead-up, paving the way for Christophe Lemaire to guide the French stayer to victory.
Wall Of Fire is at $12 in Melbourne Cup betting after he closed strongly from last to finish second in the Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield in his first Australian appearance last month.
“He’s in now so he’s a great chance,” Williams said.
“I cantered him around this morning and I’m really happy.
“Hugo Palmer arrives tomorrow morning and I’ll go and sit on the horse again on Sunday morning.”
Williams says the horse has been energetic and wanting to get on with his work at the Werribee quarantine centre which he takes as a good sign heading into Tuesday.
“He’s in great order,” Williams said.
“I’m really looking forward to Tuesday now that he’s confirmed he’s definitely a starter in the race.
“I was definitely concerned.
“So now I’m relieved and looking forward to it.”