“Frankie has been a friend for 27 years and a remarkable sportsman,” Williams said. “He’s been the best on the world stage for over a quarter of a century. It’s an extraordinary performance.
“My comparison is to Roger Federer, but Roger has not been doing it as long.
What a thrill it would be to see him do it. He is the very, very best and I’m hoping for him he can
“He desperately wants the Melbourne Cup. It’s the only big one worldwide he doesn’t have on his CV. This year after the [Ascot] Gold Cup which he won on the best stayer in the world in Stradivarius, he said Master Of Reality was my Melbourne Cup ride. So here he is on the Monday after the Breeders Cup to do it.
“What a thrill it would be to see him do it. He is the very, very best and I’m hoping for him he can.”
Williams launched a passionate defence of Dettori the last time he rode in the race after being trapped wide on Almandin and finishing 12th.
Williams’ son Nick said Dettori virtually booked himself for Master Of Reality after June’s Ascot Gold Cup, texting the leviathan owner and reminding them he still had unfinished business in Melbourne.
Dettori is expected to arrive in Melbourne on Monday after flying in from the Breeders Cup meeting in California.
Dettori came closest to winning Australia’s richest handicap when second on Max Dynamite behind the Michelle Payne-ridden Prince Of Penzance in 2015.
He was suspended for a month and fined $20,000 for causing severe interference in the straight as the fast-finishing Irish stayer rattled home.
“He’s desperate to win it,” Dettori’s manager Peter Burrell said. “Absolutely desperate.
“He was so unlucky that year with Max Dynamite. I said to him, ‘bad luck, how dispapointing’. He just shrugged it off, but that was getting as close as you can. He’s said to me the Melbourne Cup is a bit of a tangle and there’s lots of luck needed in running.
“It would be great for you guys down there with mass celebrations [if he could win it]. If he could win it for Lloyd Williams that would be even more amazing. They’ve been friends for a long time now. I’m sure the Melbourne Cup is the one that’s missing.”
Burrell first met Dettori in a British betting shop more than 30 years ago after a local bookmaker had the soon-to-be jockey chalking prices on his board to make up for punting losses.
“He said, ‘I’ve got my first ride in England next week’,” Burrell recalled. “I said, ‘you’ll be the best jockey in the world and you’ll be bigger than this sport’.
“I’m the biggest obstacle in his career, but he’s managed it for more than 30 years.”
Master Of Reality was rated a $26 chance with BetEasy on Sunday, trailing Japanese Caulfield Cup hero Mer De Glace ($6.50).
“This race at this point of his career means more to him than any race in the world right now,” Nick Williams said of Dettori. “It’s one of the few things he hasn’t been able to win. He’s the best, there’s no doubt about that. We’re very fortunate to have him.”
Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.