Melbourne Cup rocked by 'heartbreaking' news as Durston ruled out

Durston, pictured here after winning the Caulfield Cup before the Melbourne Cup.
Durston recently won the Caulfield Cup, but has been ruled out of the Melbourne Cup. Image: Getty

Connections of Caulfield Cup winner Durston have been left devastated after the horse was ruled out of the Melbourne Cup on Thursday, leaving champion jockey Damien Oliver without a ride.

Durston was deemed unfit to run in the great race next Tuesday after undergoing a mandatory pre-race scan.

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The scan revealed the $13 equal-third favourite for the Melbourne Cup had a “grey area” in his left hind leg.

Despite officials being unsure whether the scan results were anything to worry about, it was ruled that the safest course of action would be to scratch Durston from the race.

“The specialists cannot determine whether it is old or new, or whether it is even something to be concerned about, but we must respect this,” trainer Chris Waller said.

“It is all about safety, for the horse, and for the rider and the longevity of the horses. It is very disappointing for all connections of the horse, as well as my stable, because so much time and effort goes into these horses. It’s just heartbreaking.

“Durston is sound, he galloped well on Tuesday morning and my vet trotted him up following this however we must respect modern science and learn from this.

"The horse will undergo an MRI scan to investigate further.”

Racing Victoria said in a statement: “In accordance with the conditions of the race, Durston was presented at the University of Melbourne Equine Centre in Werribee on Friday, 21 October for compulsory CT scans of its distal limbs.

“Reports received from the members of the international imaging panel who reviewed Durston’s CT scan results indicate that the horse is at heightened risk of injury.

Michael Dee, pictured here returning to the mounting yard after winning the Caulfield Cup on Durston.
Michael Dee returns to the mounting yard after winning the Caulfield Cup on Durston. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

“Acting on the specialist advice received from the international imaging panel, trainer Chris Waller has been informed by RV Veterinary Services that Durston is unsuitable to compete in the 2022 Lexus Melbourne Cup.

“Accordingly, Durston will not feature among the final acceptances for the Lexus Melbourne Cup when taken at 4.30pm (AEDT) on Saturday, 29 October 2022.”

Durston had firmed from $51 to the third tier of Melbourne Cup betting after landing the first leg of Australian racing's famous spring double with the Caulfield Cup earlier this month.

In a surprise result that unfolded after Durston scraped into the field at the 11th hour, the UK import ran down Gold Trip after a precise ride from jockey Michael Dee.

It was Waller's second Caulfield Cup win and gave the stable its best chance to emulate Verry Elleegant's Melbourne Cup triumph in 2021.

However it wasn't to be and now leaves champion jockey Oliver without a ride for the great race.

Deauville Legend the favourite for Melbourne Cup

Deauville Legend was the $6 pre-race favourite on Thursday, with English trainer James Ferguson daring to dream of lifting the Melbourne Cup at his first attempt.

"He's travelled down here well and if you want to give him the Cup now, that would be great, but it's an incredibly tough ask," Ferguson said.

"Everything has to go your way."

Ferguson, who arrived in Melbourne last week, has been buoyed by the form of the gelding's former stablemate El Bodegon, who was third in the Cox Plate behind turf superstar Anamoe.

Kerrin McEvoy, pictured here onboard Deauville Legend during trackwork at Werribee.
Kerrin McEvoy onboard Deauville Legend during trackwork at Werribee. (Jay Town/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

Deauville Legend bolted away from El Bodegon when the two northern hemisphere three-year-olds - classed as four-year-olds in Australia - met in the Group 2 Voltigeur Stakes at York in mid-August, before heading to Australia this month.

"He brings in a level of form to the race, which is always nice, but there's 24 runners and everything needs to go right," Ferguson said.

"He needs to be in as good a form, if not better, than what we had him in at York."

with AAP

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