A war of words has broken out on the eve of the $6 million Melbourne Cup between one of the nation's most powerful racehorse owners and an English horse trainer.
Englishman Ed Dunlop, who is in Australia preparing his stayer Red Cadeaux for his third consecutive Melbourne Cup attempt, has infuriated Lloyd Williams by suggesting the fact he has six runners means he could employ some dubious tactics in the race.
Dunlop said he was particularly concerned because four of Williams' runners were drawn together on Saturday night.
Williams' six starters in this year's Cup is a record for one owner. His runners Sea Moon (7), Fawkner (8), Seville (9) and Green Moon (10) were all drawn together in the middle of the field.
''I hope Mr Williams isn't allowed to boss this race.'' Dunlop said.
''It is not ideal, let's not beat about the bush. We are drawn wide. I think the most interesting thing is Lloyd Williams' horses are all very well drawn.''
But Williams said that while he was deeply disappointed by Dunlop's remarks he would only say that the trainer's outburst was a case of ''extremely bad manners'' and would make no further comment.
Dunlop said the way the race was run would be crucial.
''I said before the draw that Lloyd Williams held the key to the
race and with five inside gate 10 he will play a major role in how the race is run,'' he said.
''Our barrier is bad and we can't do anything about that now.
''But if they run the race slowly, like last year, it will certainly count us out of the race. We need a genuine tempo.''
Dunlop's Red Cadeaux drew barrier 23, the second outside gate of the 24 starters.
Dunlop told the media on Saturday night said that he was becoming concerned that the race's 3200 metres would be run at an unrealistically slow tempo.
And that his draw of gate 23 combined with a slow speed would make winning difficult.
''If it is a normal race they [European horses] will win - they are better horses,'' Dunlop said.
''Lloyd Williams' horses are mostly from Europe, so it will be a European horse that should win unless something strange happens. ''Whether it is trained here or whatever, at the moment they are considerably better staying horses. If it is not us I hope it is one of my friends.''
Dunlop had hoped to draw well with Red Cadeaux so the eight-year-old could settle closer to the speed.
''If they go no pace we will go forward, if they go a pace we will ride our normal race and that is fine,'' Dunlop said.
''It all depends on the pace of the race.
''Until the draw I was quite confident but now I don't know.
''If he had drawn well we would have been quietly thinking something would have happened but we haven't drawn well so now we will need to be lucky.''