Next month, Buckhurst will arrive in Australia from Ireland, effectively guaranteed a start in this year’s Caulfield Cup for Team Williams, however co-owner Nick Williams would love to double his chances this Saturday and lock in a berth for Orderofthegarter.
“This has been the plan, this is the fork in the road if you like where you understand where you’re at with him,” Williams said ahead of Saturday’s exempt race.
“When we got him going in May or so, we thought that would be the plan. We gave him that one run and six weeks off and then into that last start and into this.
“It’s not a race we use a lot to be perfectly frank. Gallante ran second in it to Jameka. It’s a race you need a lot of luck in. You need to draw well and you need a particular type of horse, in my mind.
“He’s drawn well and it looks a reasonably even race. We’ll find out where we’re at with him.”
Williams won this race with warhorse Zipping in 2006, who went onto run 12th in a Caulfield Cup before winning a Moonee Valley Cup and finishing fourth in that year’s Melbourne Cup.
Zipping went onto win multiple group 1s and place three times in a Cox Plate, and if Orderofthegarter has half the career of Zipping then he’ll prove a good horse.
“If he wins this race he’s telling us he’d be a terrific chance in [a Caulfield Cup],” Williams said.
“I don’t know if [handicapper] Greg [Carpenter] can penalise him in that race or he can’t, but he’s got 50kg at the minute. You’d just like to see him put his best foot forward and on his previous form you think he’d be a good chance in this race and we’re just hoping he’s getting back to it.”
Meanwhile, Williams’ four imports are now in quarantine in Ireland ahead of the cups.
Master Of Reality and Twilight Payment are expected to go straight into the Melbourne Cup, while Pondus will need to earn his way into the race via the Geelong Cup or the Lexus.
Buckhurst is nominated for both Cups and the Cox Plate, but will launch his campaign over 2400 metres.
“We’ll run Buckhurst in the Caulfield Cup,” Williams said.
“The Caulfield Cup is a great race for him, he’s a strong colt. I certainly wouldn’t be saying he won’t be running in the Cox Plate at this minute, but his first run will be in the Caulfield Cup.”
Damien Ractliffe is the Chief Racing Reporter for The Age.