BIDDING for a record sixth Melbourne Cup victory, owner Lloyd Williams could have up to seven starters in Tuesday's race.
Williams has eight of the remaining 36 contenders with six safely inside the order of entry's top 24. With Foundry, 29th in the order and third behind Qewy in the Bendigo Cup on Wednesday, now ruled out, Williams could still have almost a third of the field.
His confirmed runners are ruling TAB $7 favourite and defending champion Almandin and star imports Johannes Vermeer, Rekindling and US Army Ranger.
He also has Bondi Beach and Gallante while Aloft could climb from 28th in order of entry into the final 24 with victory in Saturday's Lexus Stakes (2500m).
On Wednesday, one TAB punter had $7000 on Almandin at $7 to win back to back Cups.
Williams' son Nick said a decision on Gallante would be influenced by the weather.
"Gallante being the wet-tracker he is, there's some chance there could be quite a lot of rain on Monday and Tuesday, and we're keeping our options open," he said.
Williams indicated a decision on Gallante would be made just before the 4.30pm final acceptance deadline on Saturday.
With Frankie Dettori booked for Almandin, Corey Brown will take the mount on Joseph O'Brien-trained Rekindling. Ben Melham retains the ride on Caulfield Cup third placegetter Johannes Vermeer.
Williams started four runners in last year's Cup with Almandin leading home Bondi Beach (13th), Assign (18th) and Gallante (19th).
His Cup triumphs stretch from Just A Dash in 1981 to What A Nuisance ('85), Efficient (2007), Green Moon ('12) and Almandin.
Craig Williams hopes Wall Of Fire can emerge as the uplifting sequel to Admire Deus' Melbourne Cup absence. Williams was devastated when one-time favourite Admire Deus broke down during his final gallop before last month's Caulfield Cup.
The premier jockey is optimistic raider Wall Of Fire can deliver his first Melbourne Cup victory as Admire Deus recovers from surgery to a leg injury.
"I was shattered when Admire Deus broke down as he was an exceptional horse, so we had to work on plan B," Williams said. "I was lucky enough to come down and ride Tiberian last week and at the same time Wall Of Fire.
"I wasn't in the position where I had any extra time to wait and see how they progressed further into their preparations and one of the connections and the trainer wanted to sew up their jockey so I had to make a decision that day.
"I decided on Wall Of Fire and I'm very happy with that decision since."
Williams said Wall Of Fire was extremely healthy, happy and fit.
"He's an easy horse to ride, not a very big horse so there's no doubt the 53 kilos is to his advantage after carrying 58 last time," Williams said. "I'll have to come down and have another sit on him before the Cup but I'm enjoying the way he's preparing for next Tuesday."
He added it was important to get to know Wall Of Fire's mannerisms before the Cup.
"The more time I spend with him the more I understand about his action, his response to me with the reins and how he carries the bit in his mouth," Williams said.
Wall Of Fire arrived in Melbourne with the first shipment of international horses in late September and ran second in the Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield on October 14.
Williams said that race had turned out to be a strong form reference with subsequent Caulfield Cup winner Boom Time finishing behind Wall Of Fire.
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