The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
Damien Oliver’s long-shot chance at a final Melbourne Cup win before he hangs up his reins has been cleared to run with Alenquer passing his race morning vet check ahead of today’s $8.41 million feature.
The Michael Moroney-trained galloper presented with mild lameness associated with a stone bruise on Sunday and was ordered to be re-examined by Racing Victoria veterinarian on Tuesday morning who were still not happy with his condition on Monday.
The six-year-old gelding has subsequently been cleared and will take his spot in the now 23-horse Melbourne Cup 2023 field in Flemington Race 7 at 3:00pm (AEDT) this afternoon.
“The gelding has improved significantly overnight and as a result was passed suitable to race in today’s Melbourne Cup,” RV stewards said.
“Alenquer will also be inspected when he arrives on course as a precaution.”
Late Monday afternoon the Group 1 two-mile classic lost its sole scratching with the Kris Lees-trained Cleveland, drawn out in gate 23 with Michael Dee having been booked for the ride, withdrawn due to an elevated temperature.
With the last start Moonee Valley Gold Cup winner out seven-time Melbourne Cup winning owner Lloyd Williams’ shot at an eighth success this year lies in the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained Serpentine drawn the inside alley.
Alenquer’s owner Rupert Legh has a long association with the soon-to-retire Oliver and will be cheering him and the horse home this afternoon looking to send the hoop off with a fairy-tale upset in the 163rd edition of the ‘race that stops a nation’.
“We go back a long way and he has ridden a lot, a lot of Group 1 horses for me,” Legh told Racing.com earlier in the week.
“We’ve had a very long and very successful relationship together.
“And nothing would give me a greater pleasure, than having Damien Oliver riding our horse in his final Melbourne Cup.”
Alenquer is drawn favourably in barrier nine and is currently at a $41 quote in Melbourne Cup betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au.
He is fourth-up and was last seen finishing ninth to Cleveland in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m) under four lengths beaten in a run Legh rates better than it reads on paper.
“His run in the Moonee Valley Cup … and I had phone calls after from other trainers, who basically said if that wasn’t one of the best Melbourne Cup (trials) then they don’t know what they’re talking about,” Legh said.
“He got belted at the start, lost four lengths. He ran home under his own steam and his last 600 was the second fastest of the race and he ran the fastest last 400m and 200m for the race.
“It gave us enough encouragement to go on to the Melbourne Cup.
“We are not going to the Melbourne Cup to make up the numbers, I don’t need that. We don’t need our egos stroked.
“There’d be no greater pleasure than seeing Damien going out riding one of our horses and winning a Melbourne Cup. It would be a fitting result for our partnership as it would be for racing.”
Oliver has ridden three Melbourne Cup winners with success aboard Doriemus (1995), Media Puzzle (2002), and most recently Fiorente (2013).
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