Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
Last year’s Melbourne Cup runner-up Maluckyday has officially been scratched from tomorrow’s Underwood Stakes at Caulfield and has been ruled out of competing for the remainder of the spring season, including in the 2011 Melbourne Cup, due to an untimely but non-life-threatening virus.
The Zabeel five-year-old rose from relative anonymity to one of the stayers of the year last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival when they won the Group 3 The Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day before going on to finish second in the 151st edition of the iconic Melbourne Cup behind French-trained hero Americain.
Having failed to reach top form during the autumn, Maluckyday resumed with a first-up eighth behind the John Thompson-trained Trusting in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on September 3, a run trainers Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes were reportedly happy with.
Maluckyday was engaged to race again this Saturday at Caulfield in the $350,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) as one of 15 horses accepted into the final field for the key spring weight-for-age feature.
They were rated a $16 chance in the 2011 Underwood Stakes odds at Luxbet and were drawn in barrier nine.
The galloper was nominated for all the spring’s staying majors including the 2011 Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup 2011 at Flemington on November 1.
While a virus has forced connections to shelve plans of a return to the $6.2 million Emirates Melbourne Cup this spring, Maluckyday’s career is not over with the horse expected to make a full recovery.
“He’s got a virus and is going to the paddock,” Hall of Fame trainer John Hawkes confirmed on Thursday afternoon.
“It is not career threatening but needs treating, it is frustrating and disappointing but all going well he will be back bigger and better for the autumn.”
Having come down with a temperature on Thursday afternoon, the Hawkes considered keeping Maluckyday for the spring Cups but knew it was too much to ask of the horse.
“It would have meant missing the Underwood and jumping him up to the Turnbull (Stakes) in two weeks,” co-trainer and son of John, Wayne Hawkes said.
“That was too much to ask.
“There is a faint chance of have him coming back late in the spring, but as far as the Cups go, he won’t be in them.
“For us, that’s the end of 2011, and we now look at 2012 (Melbourne Cup).”
The loss of Maluckyday from Melbourne Cup contention is a severe blow to the Hawkes and to jockey Jim Cassidy who was aboard for their second in the ‘race that stops a nation’ last year, and excited ahead of a second stint this spring.
Niwot remains the Hawkes’ sole Melbourne Cup 2011 nomination with Maluckyday out, the seven-year-old Galileo gelding an unlikely acceptor who is rated a $51 chance in the latest Melbourne Cup betting markets at Luxbet.
To view the horses that remain in Melbourne Cup contention and their odds, head to Luxbet.
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