Williams commits to European galloper in Cups

Champion jockey Craig Williams has been booked to ride European galloper Spanish Mission (USA) in two of the spring staying features. The Andrew Balding-trained stayer is due into Melbourne on the weekend to run in both the Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 16 and the Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 2. 

After a discussion with Balding, and then talking it over with his manager Jason Breen, Williams has elected to ride Spanish Mission in both races. 

“Now that the weights have been released, we had more information,” Williams told RSN. “And when we got a phone call from Andrew Balding to tell us his situation, I had that discussion with my manager and we decided to lock in Spanish Mission for both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. 

“I’m definitely willing to go and sit on him and get a good understanding of the horse’s mannerisms, but that depends on Andrew’s training plans. He’s also been able to secure a staff member that used to work for his father, and he’s been able to commit to being full time for Andrew and Spanish Mission’s plot to win our greatest race.” 

Williams said he had been quite nervous about committing to a horse with 57kg in the Cups. But after the discussion with his manager and going through the field, Williams felt it would not be such a disadvantage as it may have been in previous years. And Williams liked the form around Stradivarius, regarded the best stayer in the world. 

Three starts ago, Spanish Mission won the Yorkshire Cup before running third in the Ascot Gold Cup, while at his last start he was just touched out by Stradivarius in the Lonsdale Cup at York on August 20. 

“Plus, he’s travelled to Saudi Arabia, Dubai on a couple of occasions and he does like fast ground for a European horse,” Williams said. 

“So, he does tick a lot of boxes where my manager and I were comfortable to accept the offer.”


Watch the Lonsdale Cup at York on August 20