Homesman has withstood a late challenge from stablemate Almandin to make an immediate impression in Australia in the Listed Mornington Cup Prelude.
The former Aidan O’Brien-trained Homesman made his Australian debut in Saturday’s 2000m race at Caulfield, having joined Lloyd Williams’ team of horses in Victoria.
The 2016 Melbourne Cup winner Almandin ($4.60) had topweight of 60kg and levelled up to Homesman ($7.50) inside the final 100m.
But four-year-old Homesman, having his first start since his third in the US Belmont Derby last July, fought on to win by a short half-head, with another two lengths to Golden Mane ($10).
Homesman and Almandin gave Liam Howley the perfect start to his training career.
Howley has worked for the Williams’ Macedon Lodge operation and became trainer after Robert Hickmott went out on his own in November.
“It’s fantastic for him to start with a quinella in this race,” said Williams’ son Nick Williams, who is a part-owner of Homesman and Almandin.
Homesman firmed from $26 to $13 for the Group One Australian Cup at Flemington in two weeks, which Nick Williams said would have to be considered.
“We might have to think where he goes next. He maybe might join Almandin in the Australian Cup but we’ll wait and see,” he said.
Homesman’s jockey, Ben Melham, believes the gelding will be even better in the spring.
“He was still a bit wayward in the straight but it was a tremendous effort to hold off a class horse like Almandin,” he said.