Damien Oliver in massive Melbourne Cup twist as vets make call on Alenquer

The veteran jockey is retiring at the end of the spring carnival, making the Melbourne Cup his last.

Damien Oliver and Alenquer, pictured here before the Melbourne Cup.
Damien Oliver will get his Melbourne Cup ride after Alenquer was ruled fit. Image: Getty

Damien Oliver will get his fairytale Melbourne Cup farewell after vets declared Alenquer fit to take part in the great race on Tuesday. Oliver is retiring from horse racing at the end of the spring carnival, making Tuesday's Melbourne Cup his last.

But the fairytale farewell was thrown into doubt on Monday when it was revealed that Alenquer had a stone bruise on his hoof. But Racing Victoria vets conducted an inspection on Tuesday morning and deemed the gelding suitable to race.

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In a statement, stewards said "the gelding had improved significantly overnight and as a result was passed suitable to race. Alenquer will also be inspected when he arrives on course as a precaution."

Frankie Dettori and Damien Oliver, pictured here before the Melbourne Cup.
Frankie Dettori and Damien Oliver look on before the Melbourne Cup. (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

Discussing the situation on Monday, the 51-year-old Oliver said: "It's just a timing thing. I spoke to the trainer this morning and he's quietly confident that he'll get him there, but the next 24 hours will tell. By the morning of the race, by scratching time, we'll know whether he's fit or not."

Oliver has an Australian record 151 victories in Group 1 races. Tuesday's race will be his 32nd ride in the Melbourne Cup, which he has won three times.

Victory would mean Oliver - who won on Doriemus in 1995, Media Puzzle in 2002 and Fiorente in 2013 - would equal legendary jockeys Harry White and Bobbie Lewis as four-time Melbourne Cup winners. "Four would be unreal," Oliver said. "To go out in my last year winning a Cup would be a dream come true."

Damien Oliver gets fairytale Melbourne Cup farewell ride

Oliver won twice on Victoria Derby Day last Saturday in a fine start to Cup week. He rode the Kris Lees-trained Kalapour to victory in the Lexus Archer Stakes, helping it qualify for the Melbourne Cup. He then won again with Queen Of The Ball for Michael Freedman in the Furphy Sprint.

"It's good for the confidence and in my last Cup carnival it's nice to get some winners," said Oliver, who's booked for six rides on Cup day. The champion jockey has been offered good wishes from rivals, including Rich Ricci - owner of favourite Vauban.

"It wouldn't be the same if he's not in it," Ricci said. "They're hopeful the horse will be right by the morning but (Oliver) has been a credit to the game and he's a world-class jockey. I know what he means to the people of Australia and it would be very fitting - I don't want him to win - if he had a ride in the race."

The news isn't as good for connections of Cleveland, who was scratched on Monday evening due to a high temperature. Michael Dee was set to ride Cleveland on Tuesday after it won the Mooney Valley Cup last month.

Stewards said in a statement: "Subsequent to passing his physical veterinary inspection earlier today, trainer Kris Lees has reported to Stewards that Cleveland now has an elevated temperature and is not fit to take his place in tomorrow’s race." While fans and pundits expressed their sadness for connections of Cleveland, they were overjoyed that Oliver will get his farewell ride.

Melbourne Cup field:

  1. GOLD TRIP (2) T: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace J: James McDonald 58.5kg

  2. ALENQUER (9) T: Michael Moroney J: Damien Oliver 56.5kg

  3. WITHOUT A FIGHT (16) T: Anthony & Sam Freedman J: Mark Zahra 56.5kg

  4. BREAKUP (18) T: Tatsuya Yoshioka J: Kohei Matsuyama 55kg

  5. VAUBAN (3) T: Willie Mullins J: Ryan Moore 55kg

  6. SOULCOMBE (4) T: Chris Waller J: Joao Moreira 53.5kg

  7. ABSURDE (8) T: Willie Mullins J: Zac Purton 53kg

  8. RIGHT YOU ARE (15) T: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace J: John Allen 53kg

  9. VOW AND DECLARE (19) T: Danny O'Brien J: Billy Egan 53kg


  11. ASHRUN (11) T: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace J: Kerrin McEvoy 51.5kg

  12. DAQIANSWEET JUNIOR (12) T: Phillip Stokes J: Daniel Stackhouse 51.5kg

  13. OKITA SOUSHI (20) T: Joseph O'Brien J: Dylan Gibbons 51.5kg

  14. SHERAZ (22) T: Chris Waller J: Beau Mertens 51.5kg

  15. LASTOTCHKA (21) T: Mick Price & Michael Kent (Jr) J: Craig Williams 51kg

  16. MAGICAL LAGOON (7) T: Chris Waller J: Mark Du Plessis 51kg

  17. MILITARY MISSION (5) T: Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott J: Rachel King 51kg

  18. SERPENTINE (1) T: Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott J: Jye McNeil 51kg

  19. VIRTUOUS CIRCLE (6) T: Liam Howley J: Craig Newitt 51kg

  20. MORE FELONS (23) T: Chris Waller J: Jamie Kah 50.5kg

  21. FUTURE HISTORY (13) T: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace J: Hollie Doyle 50kg

  22. INTERPRETATION (17) T: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace J: Teo Nugent 50kg

  23. KALAPOUR (14) T: Kris Lees J: Zac Lloyd 50kg

  24. TRUE MARVEL (10) T: Matthew Smith J: Ben Thompson 50kg

with AAP

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