James McDonald will be hoping for a quick return...
Lameness rumours surrounding Melbourne Cup 2014 second favourite Protectionist have been thwarted with the German stayer passed fit to run in the ‘race that stops a nation’.
Racing Victoria head vet Brian Stewart inspected the Andreas Wohler-trained son of Monsun on Tuesday morning along with fellow vet Grace Forbes, the check proving the stallion was 100% fit and ready for his big test next week.
“There was a report that there was something amiss but it was perhaps idle gossip,” Stewart told the Herald Sun.
“There doesn’t seem to be any issue and there’s no report from the stable of any problem but we’re just dotting our Is and crossing our Ts, I guess.”
The five-year-old is one of 11 international hopes still in the mix for this year’s $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m), the world’s richest handicap running as Flemington Race 7 next Tuesday, November 4.
The latest Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au are led at $4.80 by the 58.5kg top weight Admire Rakti who earned a half kilogram penalty after saluting with 58kg in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) a fortnight ago.
Last Saturday then another international stole the second of the ‘Big 3’ Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival majors with Irish-trained Adelaide taking out the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).
Now the bookies and punters are tipping the biggest race of them all down under, the Melbourne Cup, to also head overseas with Protectionist ($7) the next best fancied in the all-in markets.
His price has remained steady in the Melbourne Cup betting markets despite chatter of something being amiss with the second pick.
Protectionist debuted down under on October 11 on the back of a good win carrying 60kg in the Group 2 Prix Kergorlay (3000m) in France on August 24.
In his maiden Australian start he put in a brilliant late run, making up ground to cross under a length away fourth to Big Memory in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) with Craig Williams in the saddle.
For the Melbourne Cup Williams, who missed out on the winning Melbourne Cup ride aboard Duanden in 2011 due to suspension, jumps aboard the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Cavalryman who is a $26 shot in the futures markets.
Protectionist then will be ridden by Ryan Moore for the first time.
Reportedly thriving at Werribee following his ripping Herbert Power run, the galloper was put through his paces again in trackwork at Flemington on Tuesday showing no signs of any trouble.
Stewart and Forbes also checked dual Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux, the Ed Dunlop-trained UK raider looking to go one better when he contests the race for the fourth time on the trot.
The veteran nine-year-old hasn’t raced since early September when dead last, walking in over 23 lengths behind the winner in the Group 3 September Stakes (2400m) back home.
“We also had a look at Red Cadeaux, I think mainly because he’s an old man now and there’s a bit of wear and tear,” Stewart said.
“We were just making sure all was well. He’s actually probably moving as well as he has for a long time. I’ve known him for many years.”
Red Cadeaux is being kept safe in Melbourne Cup betting at $19 despite his poor recent form.
He was three quarters away second to the Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente last year, eighth to Green Moon in 2011 and second to Dunaden in the closest Melbourne Cup finish in history three years ago.
Get behind Protectionist, Red Cadeaux or any other Melbourne Cup hopeful online now at Ladbrokes.com.au and the guaranteed best price before the final field announcement on Saturday evening.
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