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'Proud Melbournian' Lloyd Williams explains love for Melbourne Cup

Lloyd Williams' achievement of winning five Melbourne Cups is extraordinary. Read on, this is a theme.

"How about this," he said so casually as he walked into the post-race media conference.

It isn't just the number of wins, which now makes him this most successful owner -- or trainer or jockey, in fact -- in the race's 156-year history; his tenacity in chasing wins in the race has become nearly as iconic as the event itself.

Williams first won the Melbourne Cup in 1981 with Just A Dash, and Almandin, one of four horses he owned in the 2016 field, gave him his second success in the past five years - and this third in 10 years given his Derby winner Efficient also won in 2007.

He is a successful businessman, who virtually built the Crown Casino complex on Melbourne's Southbank riverwalk -- which brought a dilapidated and abandoned part of the city to become a destination that any tourist will frequent at some stage of their visit. A working life investing in and building his construction empire, Hudson Conway, together with being influential on the Melbourne Cup itself as a committeeman of the Victoria Racing Club at a time when the race "couldn't even attract a free-to-air broadcaster", he is as much a part of the fabric of the race as anyone else.

"I'm a proud Melbournian; I love Melbourne", he was very quick to say in his presentation speech. And seemingly that is what drives his ambition to keep winning this race. Lloyd Williams, along with his son Nick, invest heavily in finding the right horses to line up each November. The investment in European-bred stayers is also extraordinary by any measure -- tens of millions of dollars.

"Winning this race means more than building businesses," he said at the post-race media conference.

When ESPN asked if his successful business mind would consider this a "sound economic investment", he reclined shyly and uttered that "winning another ten might help". Imagine the scale of that?

So for Lloyd Williams, it just isn't about the money; it is the challenge for the now-76-year-old who was attending Flemington for the first time since 1996. He wore the same impeccable morning suit, top hat, and life membership badge of the Victoria Racing Club.

Williams was part of legendary Flemington betting ring plunges with punting pal Kerry Packer, but he doesn't bet anymore; the fun went out of it when Packer passed away.

Nor does he go to the track, preferring to sit back in his lounge at the Williams training property at Mount Macedon, about an hour from Melbourne, watching the races on television with the audio muted.

"I do the same with the footy and cricket. It is a bit sad that I haven't been here for a while, but having been here today I've realised that I've missed it."

Williams' absence from the track created a mythical aura about his character for those not young enough to remember his more regular presence.

"I grew up in a Catholic family," he said. "There were two main things in our lives: publicans and punting. I first remember listening to the Melbourne Cup when I was five. It has been a part of my life ever since."

Williams is very open in admitting that he isn't an easy man to work for, saying "I drive people mad with my attention to detail".

And that detail is evident given strategy plays such a big part in his methods -- like making the decision that Almandin would aim for the Melbourne Cup way back in January; but there are the less justifiable superstitions.

"I am superstitious about jockeys riding trackwork on my horses," he said. As such, winning rider Kerrin McEvoy had never sat on top of Almandin before the big race.

"You need a lot of luck to win this race. A lot of things need to go right."

For all of the effort, patience, strategising and investement, Lloyd Williams isn't ready to settle for just the five Melbourne Cup wins.

"So Bart Cummings won 12. At 76, do you think I could catch him?"