Melbourne Cup hit by 'shattering' news as horse scratched on race day

Lunar Flare, pictured here ahead of the Melbourne Cup.
Lunar Flare has been ruled out of the Melbourne Cup. Image: Getty

The Melbourne Cup field has been reduced to 22 after Lunar Flare was scratched on Tuesday morning just hours before the big race.

Lunar Flare and Interpretation were both required to undergo additional veterinary inspections only hours out from the $8 million race.

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While Interpretation was deemed fit to race, Lunar Flare was ruled out due to lameness in the off fore.

"RV vets re-inspected Lunar Flare and Interpretation this morning ahead of today’s Lexus Melbourne Cup," Racing Victoria said in a statement.

"Lunar Flare still presented with lameness in the off fore and was not passed fit. Interpretation had improved upon inspection today and was passed suitable to race."

Lunar Flare's withdrawal leaves 22 runners to face the starter in the Melbourne Cup.

"We are trying to get the soreness out of the heel but rest assured if she doesn't come up, she doesn't come up and her welfare will be paramount," trainer Grahame Begg said on Monday.

Meanwhile, officials have posted a better-than-expected track rating.

The Flemington track was rated just into the slow range on Tuesday morning but rain and hail is forecast to hit Melbourne during the meeting.

UK stayer Deauville Legend remains a clear-cut Melbourne Cup favourite with Australian jockey Kerrin McEvoy chasing his fourth win in the race.

Lunar Flare becomes fourth horse scratched from Melbourne Cup

Lunar Flare was the fourth horse to be ruled out in the lead-up to the Cup, joining Point Nepean, Loft and Durston.

Point Nepean was ruled out on Monday due to an elevated blood result, leaving legendary trainer Lloyd Williams with just one horse in the race - Serpentine ($71).

“Robert Hickmott stable has advised RV Stewards that Point Nepean has returned elevated blood results and has been withdrawn from tomorrow’s Lexus Melbourne Cup,” Racing Victoria said in a statement.

Durston and Loft were also ruled out late last week.

Loft, who had been second-favourite for the Cup, was ruled out after Racing Victoria vets discovered an injured tendon.

It means jockey James McDonald, who won the Melbourne Cup last year aboard Verry Elleegant, is without a ride.

Michael Dee, pictured here riding Lunar Flare in the The Lexus Bart Cummings during Turnbull Stakes Day.
Michael Dee rides Lunar Flare in the The Lexus Bart Cummings during Turnbull Stakes Day. (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

“He’s gutted and disappointed like we all are," Loft’s managing owner Ozzie Kheir told The Age.

"He, too, thought he was a very big chance of going back-to-back. Unfortunately for James, I don’t know if he’ll have a ride in the race. I feel for him.

Durston was also scratched after a mandatory pre-race scan revealed the $13 equal-third favourite had a “grey area” in his left hind leg.

“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.”

with AAP

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