Almandin hard to beat in Sydney Cup

Liam Howley’s first Group One win has come with a dressing down and a $1000 fine from Racing NSW stewards over the instructions issued to Kerrin McEvoy on Almandin, winner of the Tancred Stakes at Rosehill.

Howley, who has been the head trainer for leviathan owner Lloyd Williams at his Victorian property for four months, admitted the instructions to McEvoy were different from those given to Damien Oliver in the Australian Cup on March 10 when Almandin came from back in the field to run fourth.

In the Tancred (2400m) on Saturday at Rosehill, theĀ Melbourne Cup winner was reunited with his Cup jockey McEvoy, who pushed forward and had him running third for most of the race.

Howley said he had left it up to McEvoy where to be in the field.

Chief steward Marc Van Gestel told Howley the rule was clear and the published speed maps had Almandin back in the field.

“Most expected him to be further back,” Van Gestel said.

“It is an important rule for the integrity of racing.”

The controversy couldn’t diminish from McEvoy’s delight at the win, his second from his two rides on Almandin.

“It’s pleasing to get back on him,” McEvoy said.

“He was in great shape today and it’s good to see him bounce back at the top level.

“He’s moving very well, he was nice and bright beforehand as Lloyd and Liam said.

“He was full of beans throughout the run

“He travelled a bit more forward than I thought we might be but he travelled really well and he was strong at the end of the 2400 metres today.”

Almandin ($3) had 1-1/4 lengths to spare on Ambitious ($21) with veteran stayer Who Shot Thebarman ($61) another half head third and $2.30 favourite Gailo Chop fourth.

Almandin firmed from $8 to $3.50 for the Sydney Cup (3200m) in two weeks with stablemate Aloft and Ambitious next at $8.

But Anthony Freedman, trainer of Japanese import Ambitious said he would not go to the Group One staying feature at Randwick.

Who Shot Thebarman is at $11 in what will be his fifth Sydney Cup, a race he has finished second in twice.

Despite the controversy over tactics, Lloyd Williams’ son and part-owner NIck Williams, said he was pleased to be in Sydney with Almandin.

“It’s a great few days racing and we’re looking forward to getting to Randwick,” he said.

“It’s fantastic to see the blue and white in Sydney.”

“The plan was to go from the Australian Cup into this race then into the Sydney Cup. Unless Kerrin got off and said we should be running him against Winx which I’m sure he won’t be doing!”

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