At Sandown in Melbourne, former Coolmore shuttler and triple Gr1-winning champion European sire Galileo (Sadler's Wells-Urban Sea, by Miswaki) added a Group race success when 4YO Irish-bred entire The Taj Mahal (Galileo-You'resothrilling, by Storm Cat) opened his stakes account with a brilliant front-running victory in the $300,000 Gr2 Zipping Classic (2400m) for 3YO+, defeating stable-mate Almandin & Big Duke. The Lloyd Williams-owned The Taj Mahal improved his record to 2 wins and 7 placings (including the Gr1 Secretariat Stakes) from 19 starts for $624,978 in earnings. The victory was a fitting won for trainer Robert Hickmott who is stepping down from his role as private trainer for Williams' Macedon Lodge. "Rob has done a fantastic job for us. He's been with us for 15 or 16 years and he's been head trainer since 2000. In fact the first race he won was here with Zipping," Williams told racing.com. "We've parted on very good terms. Rob is a great man and he wants to have a go on his own so he leaves with our absolute blessing." Previously trained by Aidan O'Brien, the beautifully bred The Taj Mahal is out of a sister to champion racehorse and leading sire Giant's Causeway and is a full-brother to three-time Gr1-winning champion miler Gleneagles, English 1,000 Guineas winner Marvellous and Gr1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.
Owner Lloyd Williams has revealed that Almandin will run in the $300,000 Gr2 Zipping Classic (2400m) at Sandown on Saturday. The 2016 Melbourne Cup winner, who finished a lacklustre 12th in this year's Cup, is likely to be joined by stable-mates The Taj Mahal and Assign. "I am going to run Almandin, I am going to run Taj Mahal and I am going to run perhaps Assign in the Zipping Classic," Williams told Melbourne's Radio Sport National. Almandin is among nine nominations for the Zipping Classic. Nominations have been extended until 10 today.