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Williams defends the local breed
Mike Hedge
09:18 AEST Mon Oct 8 2012

There is a slightly hollow sound to Lloyd Williams' views on the lack of Australian-bred stayers available for Caulfield and Melbourne Cup duty this year.

But there may not be a better authority on the subject.

Over the years, Williams has bought scores of horses from Britain and Europe and, as he says, "I think I know something about them".

That knowledge has this year led to him producing a strong prospect in each of Melbourne's big three races - the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate - all of them imports.

But in a year in which the first 14 horses in Melbourne Cup betting, including his own, are foreigners, Williams has come to the defence of an increasingly maligned local breed.

"I think we're getting carried away with these horses from Europe, saying that they're totally better than ours," Williams said on Melbourne's RSN radio.

In support of his view, Williams points to the 1997 Caulfield and Melbourne Cup winner Might And Power and his New Zealand-based sire Zabeel as an example of what the local breed is capable of.

"Might And Power would have picked these horses up and carried them," he said.

"He was by Zabeel ... and he was a staying sire who could have taken his place with any of those sires in Europe."

The most recent of his three Melbourne Cup winners, Efficient, another son of Zabeel, is a superior stayer to any of the Europeans in Melbourne this spring, including his leading contender, Green Moon.

"Green Moon is nowhere near Efficient," he said.

"Efficient in a two mile race would give him a start."

The situation in Australia and New Zealand, according to Williams, would easily be solved by some judicious placement of stallions already available.

In particular, he would like to see some of the major European breeders shuttle more stallions to New Zealand.

"I don't think we want to say the colonials are so far behind, it just happens that we haven't got a staying stallion here," he said.

"I'd love to see the staying stallions in New Zealand because I think they have a better chance over there.

"I certainly think in Australasia we can breed staying horses, I don't think there is any doubt about that."

Williams had one of his better days at the races on Saturday, winning four black-type races in two states and landing a Group One quinella in the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington.

The Turnbull winner, Green Moon, who raced with only limited success in England, is now second favourite for the Caulfield Cup and third favourite in both the Melbourne Cup and Cox Plate.

Williams also has the German import Seville in the Cups, along with Craven Plate winner, the Irish-bred Mourayan and Midas Touch from England.

The fortunate situation he is in this season, however, has come at a price.

And it could prove a costly experiment for the increasing number of Australians flocking to Europe to buy stayers.

"A lot of people are going to burn their fingers buying these horses," he said.

"I speak from experience. From 1986 to 1990 Kerry Packer and I bought 42 of these horses, and they weren't that good.

"It's the flavour of the month to go out and buy an English horse, but I'll tell you what, the people over there are rubbing there hands together with glee."

As is Williams.


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