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Headline Italian jockey Frankie Dettori has secured the Melbourne Cup 2017 mount on the Lloyd Williams-owned favourite Almandin after Damien Oliver lost his appeal for the 20-meeting Cox Plate suspension.
Oliver will be absent from the entire Melbourne Cup Carnival, missing the prized ride on defending champion Almandin in Tuesday week’s Group 1 $6.25 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
A three-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey, Oliver made an appeal to the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board against his improper riding suspension on Monday afternoon but it was dismissed.
The original hefty penalty for his decision to shift on Happy Clapper causing subsequent interference to the Dean Yendall-ridden Royal Symphony in last Saturday’s Cox Plate was upheld.
“I’m obviously disappointed in the result today to miss the spring carnival,” Oliver told the media on Monday afternoon.
“I accept the board’s decision and myself being a competitive person is what’s made me able to sustain a long and successful career.
“The board felt I overstepped the line which I accept. The main thing I want to put out there is I have total respect for the riders I ride with and would never do anything to put them in danger.”
Oliver’s suspension began on Monday and continues through until November 16, after the action of the Group 1 Flemington majors that kick off on Victoria Derby Day this Saturday.
He will have to wait a full year however to get the chance to make Melbourne Cup history, Oliver vying to join Harry White and Bobbie Lewis as the only four-time winning riders in the famous two-mile classic.
Following the news, Williams and trainer Robert Hickmott were quick to secure the services of controversial international hoop Dettori.
Dettori will shoot for his maiden Melbourne Cup winning ride aboard Monson eight-year-old Almandin who is allocated 56.5kg, 4.5kg more than the horse carried to victory with Kerrin McEvoy aboard in last year’s ‘Race That Stops A Nation’.
Dettori has ridden two Melbourne Cup placegetters on Max Dynamite (2nd) in 2015 and the Godolphin-raced Central Park (1999) who was narrowly defeated by the late Bart Cumming’s 11th champion Rogan Josh.
That latest second behind Darren Weir’s $101 winner Prince Of Penzance two years ago caused a stir as Dettori caused interference aboard the William Mullins-trained international Max Dynamite in the race to the finish line.
“I have been trying for so many years to win the Melbourne Cup, with my first attempt in 1993; that’s almost 25 years,” Dettori wrote for Ladbrokes (UK).
“Obviously I am very grateful that I have the ride on Almandin, although it was in difficult circumstances. I am very sad for Damien Oliver.
“I have been good friends with Lloyd Williams for over 20 years now and he takes me under his wing every time I come to Australia. My wife’s mum is Australian and her father is a New Zealander so this means a lot to the family. It is one of the biggest races worldwide after all.
“There are 24 runners and it is a top race but you know this horse has a great chance and he comes here with a great profile.”
Almandin was disappointing in a last start fourth carrying 60kg as the beaten favourite at Flemington on October 7 in the Group 3 The Bart Cummings (2500m).
The gelding has retained top spot in pre-field Melbourne Cup odds paying $6.50 through Ladbrokes.com.au however to go back-to-back for the first time since Makybe Diva’s record third win in 2005.
Max Dynamite meanwhile is also still in the race following Monday’s Melbourne Cup 2017 second acceptances, the now eight-year-old paying $17 to improve on his second in 2015.
To check out the latest all-in Melbourne Cup 2017 betting markets before final acceptances on Saturday afternoon, head to Ladbrokes.com.au.
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