CRAIG Williams is brimming with Melbourne Cup confidence, declaring a 5kg weight drop will make Irish stayer Wall Of Fire a force to be reckoned with in today's $6.2 million race.
Williams has a mantle full of trophies but has never won the Cup and the six-time Victorian jockey's premiership winner could not be happier with the chance he has this year.
Williams said Wall Of Fire ticked plenty of Melbourne Cup boxes, but pointed to the massive weight drop since he ran second in the Herbert Power Stakes last month as the most significant.
The five-year-old beat home Caulfield Cup winner Boom Time in that run.
Wall of Fire continues to be specked in betting with several four-figure bets, but remains steady at $13 with the TAB, as fellow international Marmelo ($8) retains race favouritism.
"I love his international form, he has a nice acceleration that comes with that, and most importantly he ticks the boxes that he has had one race in Australia and he competed really well," Williams said.
"Then a week later in the Caulfield Cup his form was franked by Boom Time. When he competed in the Herbert Power he had 58kg and he has dropped to 53kg for the Melbourne Cup.
"When you look at him, he competed so well with that weight. But to drop down 5kg, at two miles, he's going to be a force to be reckoned with.
"He is a horse that does get back and always seems to need a little luck in running. But he's the right horse getting the right run that he will show his presence late."
Marmelo's trainer Hughie Morrison is confident his horse has recovered from the flashy sixth in the Caulfield Cup which prompted punters to get on board.
Morrison said the preparation had gone to plan, and it was now over to jockey Hugh Bowman to do the rest.
"I don't think I'll give Hugh Bowman instructions. He's ridden the horse at home, he's ridden it in a race. I think in a 23 runner race you let the jockey make up his mind as the race unfolds," he said.
"We've drawn wide enough (in barrier 15), I don't think he'll be panicking because two miles is a long way for any horse and I expect they'll go a good gallop. I'm sure Hughie will get it right.
Darren Weir is doing his part to hold off the international invasion with three runners in the race and got the report he wanted on Friday morning from stable foreman Jarrod McLean who called from Warrnambool to tell him all were "great".
Weir has Humidor ($10), Amelie's Star ($18) and Big Duke ($19) trying to win his second Melbourne Cup, and maintained Humidor was the pick of the lot.
"I think his weight and the distance are the unknown factors. I think he can run the trip but everybody else doesn't seem to," Weir said. "He's got the right form line but you don't know whether they can run out the trip until they do so."
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