Valiant King could be scratched from the Melbourne Cup just three days out from the $8.4 million race at Flemington.
The four-year-old, trained by two-time winner Joseph O’Brien, failed a vet check on Friday morning following concerns at trackwork.
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Racing Victoria said the horse was “lame in the left front” and will be examined again on Saturday morning.
But any remaining doubts will see Valiant King, currently a $26 chance after finishing sixth in the Caulfield Cup, pulled from the Melbourne Cup.
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“He may have had a knock somewhere,” part-owner Ozzie Kheir said.
“They couldn’t find anything wrong with him. He now seems to trot up fine, Racing Victoria will re-inspect him.
“We will be acting on the side of caution with Valiant King. Unless he’s 100 per cent, we won’t be running.”
Valiant King during trackwork last week. Credit: Reg Ryan/Racing Photos via Getty Images
Despite impressing in the Caulfield Cup two weeks ago Valiant King had already been subject to some concern, prompting a change of jockey.
Victorian star Jamie Kah was released from the ride to chase a more settled opportunity for the Melbourne Cup.
Kah, who has endured injuries and controversy this year, landed a ride aboard More Felons.
Zac Lloyd was booked on Valiant King in her place.
Meanwhile, Racing Victoria confirmed the remaining 28 horses in contention for the Melbourne Cup have been passed fit.
Twenty-two, including last year’s winner Gold Trip and this year’s Caulfield Cup winner Without A Fight, were inspected on Thursday.
Sheraz was not passed fit due to “some heat in its front leg” but received the green light following another check on Friday.
Absurde, Breakup, Vauban, Lastotchka, Okita Soushi and More Felons were also passed fit.
Vauban is the current Melbourne Cup favourite at $3.60 ahead of Gold Trip ($4.50) and Without A Fight ($7.50).
The Chris Waller-trained Sheraz underwent a second vet check on Friday and was passed fit. Credit: George Sal/Racing Photos via Getty Images
Meanwhile, Racing Victoria said Melbourne Cup hopefuls taking part in Saturday’s Archer Stakes at Flemington will be examined after the race.
Ladies Man, Athabascan, United Nations, Kalapour and Mostly Cloudy are in the running for the Melbourne Cup.
But Athabascan’s trainer John O’Shea on Friday confirmed the horse will not race in the 3200m classic even if he qualifies with a win on Saturday.
“(The three-day turnaround) is not suitable for him at this stage of his career and this preparation,” O’Shea said.
“He’s had a pretty busy season and we don’t want to burn him.”
The five-year-old gelding currently sits 26th on the Melbourne Cup entry list.
Racing Victoria also confirmed all horses in the final field will be inspected on Monday.
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