Tears flowed from hardened racing followers after Homesman scored a nail-biting victory in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Earlier in the week part-owner of Homesman, Australian music icon Michael Gudinski, died suddenly, leaving an outpouring of emotions from his closest friends, including Nick Williams.
Gudinski shared in a number of horses part-owned by Lloyd and Nick Williams, including three Melbourne Cup winners, Almandin, Rekindling and last year’s winner Twilight Payment.
“Most importantly his (Gudinski’s) son (Matt) is here leading the horse in. All I want to say is ‘there’s only one Michael Gudinski!’,” Nick Williams said.
Ridden by Jye Mcneil, who teamed with Gudinski and his fellow owners in last year’s Melbourne Cup, Homesman ($26) got the bob in to defeat Best Of Days ($26) by a nose with Chapada ($41) a length away third.
Sam Freedman, who trains Homesman in partnership with his father Anthony Freedman, said the Freedman family were close to Gudinski.
“Dad has some very fond memories with him back in the 90’s and early 2000s,” Freedman said.
“He (the horse) certainly had some help out there.”
Freedman said Lloyd Williams came up with a plan to ride Homesman in a European fashion.
“Having a bit of room to move helped and one thing he’s got is that tenacity, that will to win and he’s now a two-time Group 1 winner,” Freedman said.
“We couldn’t quite get a slot in the All-Star Mile, but this is maybe a little bit better.
“We knew he’d be a touch stronger than the second horse in the last little bit and he’s proven at this distance.
“On the line I thought the other horse got the bob in, so it was a pleasant surprise.”
McNeil was appreciative of having a crowd welcoming him back when claiming his first Australian Cup after scoring at a crowd-less Melbourne Cup.
He said it was a tough performance from Homesman while the tactics of Lloyd Williams were also instrumental in the gelding’s success.
“There was a plan of attack today and it all came off,” McNeil said.
“On the line I thought he was giving me everything he had, but I felt he was starting to peak on his run and starting to lay in a touch, but he put it all on the track today and I’m super happy to get the win.”