Apr 20

Melbourne Cup 2014: Cup field in danger of just 22 starters

Chief steward Terry Bailey speaks to trainer Wayne Hawkes earlier this year. Photo: Pat Scala Chief steward Terry Bailey speaks to trainer Wayne Hawkes earlier this year. Photo: Pat Scala

Chief steward Terry Bailey speaks to trainer Wayne Hawkes earlier this year. Photo: Pat Scala

Chief steward Terry Bailey speaks to trainer Wayne Hawkes earlier this year. Photo: Pat Scala

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The powerful Godolphin outfit was seeking veterinary advice from Melbourne and overseas on Monday night in relation to swelling in the leg of Cavalryman.

Those supervising the stayer had contacted Racing Victoria stewards during the evening to assure them the best veterinary advice was being sought.

Racing Victoria chief steward Terry Bailey said:  “The situation is that there is a concern with the leg and they are seeking the best advice possible both here and overseas.

“We are comfortable with that and we will examine the horse when he arrives at Flemington.”

The Cup was reduced to a field of 23 earlier on Monday after Sea Moon was withdrawn due to a high temperature.

Owner Lloyd Williams’ bid for a fifth Melbourne Cup was still alive though as he had third favourite and Cox Plate runner-up Fawkner in the race.

A frustrated Bailey said earlier on Monday he planned to drop his usual pre-race safety lecture to jockeys for the Cup because his pleas had been largely ignored before an “ugly” Caulfield Cup.

The chief steward usually gathers the jockeys before the race to impress on them that safety is the No. 1 priority during the running of Australia’s most important race.

In the Caulfield Cup two weeks ago, Bailey said there had been   “needless interference” throughout the race, with top jockey Luke Nolen later suspended.

“Other contributing factors made it a messy race,” Bailey said. “It seems there’s little point [talking with the jockeys], I’m just talking to myself, so I’d rather not do it.

“It was very disappointing the ugliness of the Caulfield Cup. We had a young boy Regan Bayliss riding in his first cup and no one even looked after him.

“The riding tactics were not good enough and the paramount concern for stewards is to get everyone home safely.

“I know there’s a lot of money – a tremendous amount of money – at stake in betting and prizemoney, but that’s no excuse [not] to remember that your fellow jockeys deserve safety.”

Meanwhile, Leigh Jordon, who is in charge of recruiting internationals to race in Australia in the spring,  believes the spread of horses this year had given the carnival an international basis.

“It’s fabulous to see a great variety of horses from all over the world,” he said. “We’ll have at Flemington on Tuesday racehorses from England, Ireland, France, Germany and Japan, and that gives Australian racegoers a tremendous insight into some of the world’s best.”

Acting VRC chief executive Julian Sullivan said the racecourse was fully prepared for a crowd of 100,000-plus.

“It’s been a phenomenal response,” he said. “We’re well ahead on ticket sales and I think with luck we could top the 100,000 figure.

“We have an even field that has a real international flavour and we must never forget that not only Victorians but all of Australasia embrace the Melbourne Cup.

“Our figures of 90,000 on Saturday were excellent for Derby day considering the terrible weather and the forecast on Saturday morning.”

Tabcorp is expecting a huge day as once-a-year punters and regular gamblers descend on agencies.

The TABs in NSW and Victoria are expected to hold $90 million on the Melbourne Cup and nearly $200 million on the day’s racing. It will process 2000 bets a second at peak times.

Japanese stayer Admire Rakti is poised to achieve racing history if he can add the Melbourne Cup to his Caulfield Cup success.

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