From the time Michael Walker won the Sandown Cup he knew Almoonqith was his 2016 Melbourne Cup ride.
Walker guided Almoonqith to victory in last year’s 3200m Sandown Cup, less than two weeks after the horse finished a luckless 18th behind Prince Of Penzance in the Melbourne Cup for Dwayne Dunn.
A year on and Almoonqith is a more relaxed horse under the training of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig according to Walker.
“These imports can take that one preparation and this horse has come back this time a different horse,” Walker said.
“He’s an oldish horse but mentally he’s a lot calmer.
“He used to pull so hard but I’ve got him into a rhythm now where he settles really well.”
A $21 chance, Almoonqith goes into Tuesday’s race off a last-start fourth behind Jameka in the Caulfield Cup.
Walker said Almoonqith was luckless after being held up behind a wall of horses turning for home.
“I was a bit worried but he just exploded when he got through them,” Walker said.
“The team has got his fitness better, better and better and he’s ready to run two miles.”
Walker himself is relaxed and unfazed by riding in Australia’s richest race.
Last year Walker finished third on Almoonqith’s then stablemate Criterion.
“I’m looking forward to getting out there. I want to get it done,” Walker said.
“You get those sports stars that have their ways to try and chill out and block themselves out.
“I don’t get nervous. I’m a great believer in what will be will be.”