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Last year’s Melbourne Cup winning jockey Craig Williams will be the new rider for this year’s Cup favourite Surprise Baby when he kicks off his 2020 Spring Carnival campaign in the Group 2 $250,000 John F. Feehan Stakes (1600m) at The Valley on September 5.

Craig Williams will be the new rider for Surprise Baby, above, when she kicks off her Melbourne Cup campaign in the John F. Feehan Stakes at The Valley. Photo by Ultimate Racing Photos.

Craig Williams will be the new rider for Surprise Baby, above, when she kicks off her Melbourne Cup campaign in the John F. Feehan Stakes at The Valley. Photo by Ultimate Racing Photos.

Williams will replace a disappointed Jordan Childs who was aboard Surprise Baby in all of his three 2019 Spring Carnival appearances that included a fifth in the Group 1 $7.75m Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November.

“Jordan is disappointed to lose the ride but appreciates the opportunities he has been given on the horse,” Childs’ manager Pete Newcombe told racenet.

Childs also rode Surprise Baby into fourth spot in the 2019 John F. Feehan Stakes and then the pair combined to secure a spot in the Melbourne Cup at their next start with a win in the Group 3 $500,000 The Bart Cummings (2520m) at Flemington.

The Paul Preusker trained Surprise Baby has been installed the $8.50 Melbourne Cup favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au but Williams is yet to confirm that he will be riding the six year old in ‘The Race That Stops A Nation’.

“I have just spoken to my manager and I haven’t confirmed any (Melbourne Cup) ride,” Williams told Racenet.

Williams rode Vow And Declare to victory in last year’s Melbourne Cup and the Danny O’Brien trained stayer is marked at $21 for back to back victories in Australia’s greatest race.

Early betting for the 2020 Melbourne Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au: $8.50 Surprise Baby, $10 Russian Camelot, $16 Master Of Wine, $17 Verry Elleegant, $19 King Of Leogrance, $21 Shared Ambition, Vow And Declare, $26 Dashing Willoughby, San Huberto, $31 Constantinople, Oceanex, Schabau, Young Rascal, $34 Cross Counter, Finche, Mugatoo, Nickajack Cave, Pondus, Skyward, True Self, $41 or better the rest.

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.