The 2014 Caulfield Cup field is shaping up to be a very different one than punters expected following the shock scratching of Japanese superstar stayer Bande.
The five-year-old failed a veterinary examination carried out by Racing Victoria stewards at Werribee on Friday morning.
Heat and pain were detected in Bande’s off-fore tendon, which left stewards ruling him unfit for the race.
The Yoshito Yahagi-trained horse was one of the front-runners for the $3 million Group 1 Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup (2400m) following a brilliant five-length victory his last time out in the Listed Sapporo Nikkei (2600m).
His fixed-price odds got as low as $7 with Ladbrokes.com.au behind only Lucia Valentina, the top-pick at $4.60 (which has since shortened to $3.80). He was considered the better of the Japanese picks, as he carried 1.5kg less than Admire Rakti.
Bande’s scratching follows that of Gris Caro and Dandino, while Gai Waterhouse’s The Offer is also undergoing vet checks.
Racing Victoria Chief Veterinarian Brian Stewart, who conducted the lengthy examination of Bande, was immediately concerned by the serious tendon issue and had no hesitation in advising the race’s stewards he should be removed from the event, despite the horse’s connections objections.
Stewart spoke to Racing Ahead this morning regarding the decision.
“We examine horse when we suspect asp of the prep and we did that with all horses in high profile races,” Stewart said.
“[I was asked to inspect Bande] and we found a quiet hot and sore off fore tendon.
“I think that it has probably been a problem that has been a long term issue that has been effectively managed by connections, but the morning before the race it has flared up.
“The tendon is hot and his condition is not acceptable for any race.
“It was a very straightforward veterinary decision.
“It was very definitely a tendon and there was no point in delaying the system even longer.
“Unless there is a minor miracle I don’t think that he will be running in the Melbourne Cup either.”
Bande’s withdrawal makes way for eight-year-old mare Unchain My Heart to make her Group One debut tomorrow in the 2014 Caulfield Cup, and what a race to do it in.
The mare took a minor placing from the Listed Harry White Classic (2400m) on September 27 over the same distance as the Cup but failed to make an impression her last time out in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m), finishing ninth.
If you feel like backing Unchain My Heart to steal the Caulfield Cup 2014 victory, she’s currently paying huge odds of $201 with Ladbrokes.com.au.