MELBOURNE • Frankie Dettori will look to end a quarter-century of frustration in Australia's most prestigious horse race when the flamboyant jockey rides last year's winner and favourite Almandin in today's A$6.2 million (S$6.47 million) Melbourne Cup.
The Italian has won virtually every trophy of significance in thoroughbred racing but victory in the gruelling 3,200m handicap race at Flemington Racecourse has proved elusive.
The 46-year-old made his Melbourne Cup debut with a ninth-place finish on Drum Taps back in 1993 and has only two placings from his 15 campaigns, second place on Dynamite in the 2015 running his most recent near-miss.
Serendipity has played a part in this year's bid, with Australian jockey and three-time Cup winner Damien Oliver losing his ride on the race favourite after being suspended for 20 races for "improper riding" during the lead-up Cox Plate.
Local businessman Lloyd Williams, who captured a record fifth Cup win as an owner when Kerrin McEvoy rode gelding Almandin to victory in a sprint last year, was quick to swoop on Dettori as a replacement.
"It's one of the best races in the world. I'd like to put my name on that famous list of jockeys," Dettori told Australian media yesterday.
"There's some unfinished business."
History is against German-bred Almandin's bid for back-to-back wins. Only four horses - Archer, Rain Lover, Think Big and Makybe Diva - have achieved the feat in the race's 156-year history.
Makybe Diva was the last with a hat-trick of trophies from 2003-05.
Long shots have often raced away with the prize, including Prince of Penzance, which defied 100-1 odds in the 2015 running and made jockey Michelle Payne the first woman to ride a Cup winner.
Almandin will be up against a record-equalling 11 European horses in the 24-strong field intent on emulating Vintage Crop (1993), Media Puzzle (2002), Delta Blues (2006), Americain (2010) and Dunaden (2011) as overseas winners.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS