Friday 24 November 2017

Billionaire's praise

Bondi Beach carries Aidan O’Brien’s hopes on Tuesday in Melbourne
Bondi Beach carries Aidan O’Brien’s hopes on Tuesday in Melbourne

What was due to be a low-key morning yesterday at Werribee Racecourse, the home of the international raiders for the Emirates Melbourne Cup, turned into quite the opposite as the small media pack in attendance were treated to a rare visit by billionaire Lloyd Williams.

The four-time Emirates Melbourne Cup winning owner, who founded Crown Casino in Melbourne, made the trip to see the Aidan O'Brien-trained Bondi Beach canter under work rider Emmet McNamara and went on to describe the Ballydoyle trainer as the "greatest" but "wasted" at training racehorses.

Williams said: "Aidan is the best trainer in the world. He could do anything, Aidan. His attention to detail to run a business, I have never seen anything like it before. He's a 24/7 person who runs a business and an absolutely amazing man.

"The only thing he is doing is wasting his time in racing because he'd be a great success in any business he took on.

"I've got the highest admiration for him."

Williams' association with Coolmore has seen O'Brien send a number of runners to Australia to run in major races over the last couple of years and after finishing down the field 12 months ago, there seems to be some confidence among connections that Bondi Beach can run a big race for the outfit.

"He looks well, he's bright and well and matured a bit since last year - he looks fine. He's got the Aidan O'Brien polish," Williams said just as the horse finished up his work.

"It was planned to come back (after last year) and he had four runs this year in Ireland and he's back here and (we're) hoping. Aidan seems to be pretty happy with him and that's the main thing."

Williams, who first won the race in 1981, looks set to have four runners in this year's renewal and makes no secret about what it means to him.

"I'm doing it for 50 years and I'm just looking up there to the All Mighty to see what he might shine on me this time. I'm a Melbournian, born and bred here, and I have won lots of races over a period of time but this is the most important race to me anywhere in the world.

"I was lucky enough to have a share in Order Of St George when he won the Ascot Gold Cup this year but as a Melbournian winning the Melbourne Cup is the thing for me."

Full of praise for O'Brien, Williams was also pleased to have Ryan Moore on his side ,although Frankie Dettori, who will ride Irish St Leger winner Wicklow Brave for Willie Mullins, has been in touch with the 76-year-old to give his views on the race.

"He's not a bad pilot, is he? But I just booked Frankie into the hotel and he gave Order Of St George a great ride in the Arc. He sent me a picture beforehand from the jockeys' room and he said 'Don't I look well in these colours?' and now he's saying he's going to beat me (on Tuesday) so I don't know.

"It's hard to win, it's bloody hard, and I think any one of the Europeans could win."

A long association with JP McManus opened the door for Williams to link up with the Coolmore firm and if Aidan O'Brien can snare the biggest race in the world next Tuesday, it will be a partnership that forever goes down in history.

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