Australia: Inspired Hickmott quiet hero of Almandin tale
Trainer Robert Hickmott took a back seat after Almandin's win
PICTURE: Getty Images Inspired Hickmott quiet hero of Almandin tale
By Mark Scully in Melbourne 8:15AM 3 NOV 2016
IN THE aftermath of Tuesday's Melbourne Cup, one pivotal figure went almost entirely overlooked in the extensive media coverage – winning trainer Robert Hickmott.
Almandin's win saw plenty written and broadcast about both owner Lloyd Williams claiming a record fifth Melbourne Cup and jockey Kerrin McEvoy bagging a second but hardly a word has been said about Hickmott, for whom this was also a second victory in the race.
Hickmott, Williams' private trainer, saddled Green Moon to win the Flemington feature in 2012 and was also heavily involved with the preparation of Efficient, who took out the prize in 2007.
The 46-year-old, who was briefly a professional Australian Rules footballer in another life, may have been happy for Williams and McEvoy to take the plaudits but make no mistake, this was an outstanding training performance.
Almandin was slowly nursed back to health after a tendon injury that kept him off the track for more than two years and the decision to get the German import qualified for the race before giving him a four-week break was inspired.
Williams is a determined owner and no doubt McEvoy one of the finest riders of a staying race in the world but the pair would not have been enjoying champagne on Tuesday evening had it not been for the quiet, meticulous work of the masterful Hickmott.
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The moment McEvoy almost lost the Cup
In the 24 hours following Almandin's win, Kerrin McEvoy barely let his Melbourne Cup trophy out of his sights, gripping it with genuine elation and pride.
For a moment though, he feared it could have been snatched from him by a delighted young fan as he handled questions from reporters on the way back to the weighing room.
McEvoy stopped to talk near a rail, where a young boy asked if he could touch the Cup. Without really thinking, McEvoy handed it over to the open-mouthed youngster, whose mother proceded to take a few snaps to preserve the memory.
Realising what he had just done, McEvoy quickly cut off answering a question to plead: "Don't steal it!"
The boy, his day well and truly made, gladly handed the trophy back and a crisis was averted.
Heartbreak team the toast of Australia
We are 48 hours removed from the thrilling conclusion to Tuesday's race and Australia still cannot get enough of Heartbreak City's charismatic owners.
The New York-based Irishmen have embraced every moment of their trip to Melbourne and their defining moment came when Channel 7's Neil Kearney, who had positioned himself next to the group in anticipation of something special, moved in for some immediate reaction to the narrow reverse.
Aidan Shiels, a legendary exchange with Nick Luck at York already under his belt, went absolutely berserk, screaming that he did not care his horse had missed out, before hugging Kearney with such gusto, the pair fell into the seats.
So much success at the highest level, particularly on the Flat, is met with a relatively underwhelmed response by owners well used to picking up big prizes, making the explosion of joy from Shiels and company all the more wonderful to see.
Tags: Robert Hickmott | Almandin | Kerrin McEvoy
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