There has been late drama on the eve of the Melbourne Cup with a top contender suddenly scratched from the $8.4 million race.
Cleveland was a $30 shot but had been building nicely for the Cup, finishing second in the St Leger at Randwick over 2600m and following that with a win in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup (over 2500m) at the end of October.
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But at 5.40pm AEDT on the eve of the race, Racing Victoria stewards revealed Cleveland had been scratched from the Cup on the advice of vets after they noticed the horse had an “elevated temperature”.
The disappointing news was released just hours after Cleveland was passed fit.
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Cleveland was entering the big race in good form. Credit: Getty Images.
Cleveland is a former Irish stayer who was brought to Australia by ‘Cups King’ Lloyd Williams.
The six-year-old stallion is trained by Kris Lees and was set to be ridden by quality jockey Michael Dee.
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“Veterinarians today completed their second round of pre-race physical veterinary inspections of all starters in tomorrow’s $8.4 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington,” RV said.
With no emergencies for the race, it means the field has been reduced to 23 runners and there is still a very slim chance that could drop to 22.
Veteran jockey Damien Oliver has been sweating on the fitness of his ride Alenquer after a stone bruise was discovered following trackwork on Sunday.
But the three-time champion Oliver now looks set to race in his 32nd and final Melbourne Cup after Alenquer was passed fit on Tuesday morning.
The horse was assessed by Racing Victoria vets at 3.30am on Tuesday morning after officials gave them until the last possible moment to make a decision.
Just minutes before the final scratching time of 7.30am on Cup morning, news broke that the Michael Moroney-trained six-year-old was given the all clear to run.
As a precaution, however, Alenquer will be assessed again on the course prior to the race.
Alenquer will run in the Melbourne Cup. Credit: Getty
As late as Monday night, the horse was showing signs of soreness in the near fore foot as a result of a stone bruise.
Oliver was philosophical about his chances on Monday but said Moroney was “confident”.
“With feet it’s a day to day thing, it’s not like a tendon or a bone injury, one day they’re not so good and next day they can be OK,” he said.
“It’s all timing, if I’m going to have a ride I want to be riding on a fit, healthy horse, if the horse isn’t right it’s not right.
“I’ve ridden in enough Melbourne Cups to not just have a ride for the sake of having a ride, I know it’s my last, but you want the horse to be right if he’s going to go there.
“Pretty philosophical about, I’ve been in it long enough to see the ups and downs and what will be will be.”
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