Leviathan owner Lloyd Williams won his third Bendigo Cup when Tanby easily held out his higher-weighted stablemate At First Sight, but it might not be enough to get the Galileo gelding into the Melbourne Cup.
The five-year-old is weighted to carry 50kg in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup and his fate in the hands of Racing Victoria’s chief handicapper Greg Carpenter.
Tanby is currently 38th in the order of entry into the 24-horse field and a penalty of anything less than 2.5kg may not be enough to put him into the field.
“All I can say to Greg Carpenter is that’s clearly the most impressive Bendigo Cup winner I’ve ever seen so I hope he’s listening to that and he’ll probably want to give him three kilos,” part-owner Nick Williams, representing the stable, said tongue in cheek.
“I dare say in this sort of race ($200,000 Listed) he probably won’t get two (kilograms) but you never know.
“At First Sight was game … weight stops trains. With 58kg and that small setback he just knocked up the last 100 metres but he ran well and it was a great Cup trial.”
Tanby, who was runner-up to French stayer Dunaden in the Geelong Cup (2400m) last Wednesday, was beautifully ridden by Steven King just off the speed behind Gai Waterhouse pair Two For Tea and Western Symbol.
Sent out at $4 Tanby, who carried 54kg, shot clear in the straight and beat English Derby runner-up At First Sight ($3 fav), who came from a clear last, by 1-3/4 lengths with Western Symbol ($10) 1-1/4 lengths away third.
“To quinella it, not many things mean more to us than that because it is a very fond place in our heart the Bendigo Jockey Club,” Nick Williams said.
Another Williams-owned horse, Gallic, won the race in 2004 and 2006.
Wednesday’s win was a triumph for King who had previously won the race aboard the Lee Freedman-trained Cockade in 1996.
“The most important thing in all this is that Steven King has been doing all the work at Mt Macedon for six months on these horses,” Williams said.
“So for him to win this is just terrific and it’s an absolute sign and a great thing for the dedication he’s shown and all the work he’s done for us.”
Nick Hall, rider of At First Sight, said he peaked on his run the last 100m.
“He has a bit better turn of foot than most of these Europeans and he obviously can stay,” Hall said.
Williams and trainer Robert Hickmott still have six horses in the Cup and are likely to have at least four runners – Midas Touch, Linton, Mourayan and At First Sight.
Green Moon must win Saturday’s Lexus Stakes at Flemington to gain a start.
Trainer Luca Cumani described the run of former Chilean stayer Sahara Sun (eighth) as “a bit disappointing”.
“He didn’t do what we wanted him to do. He sort of ran the same speed throughout and didn’t pick up,” he said.
“That (the Melbourne Cup) is up for discussion, but I would say it is doubtful.”