Melbourne Cup rocked by 'devastating' news amid calls for change to 'ludicrous' farce

The field for the Melbourne Cup was reduced from the traditional 24, and that hasn't sat well with fans.

Cleveland, pictured here before the Melbourne Cup.
Cleveland was a late scratching from the Melbourne Cup due to a high temperature. Image: Getty

Horse racing fans are calling for emergencies to be added to the Melbourne Cup field after Cleveland was a late scratching on Monday evening. Just hours after being cleared by vets from Racing Victoria, Cleveland was ruled out due to a high temperature.

“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,” officials said. Michael Dee was set to ride Cleveland on Tuesday after it won the Mooney Valley Cup last month, but he subsequently lost his ride in the great race.

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It means the field was reduced to 23 horses, but the news was better for Alenquer and jockey Damien Oliver. Alenquer underwent a veterinary inspection on Tuesday morning due to a stone bruise, but it was cleared to take part in the great race.

Alenquer, pictured here alongside Damien Oliver before the Melbourne Cup.
Alenquer is in doubt for the Melbourne Cup in a brutal twist for Damien Oliver. Image: Getty

It meant Oliver got his fairytale Cup farewell after it was thrown into serious doubt on Monday. Oliver announced earlier this year that he'll retire from horse racing at the end of the spring carnival.

The 51-year-old is one of Australia's most experienced jockeys and was chosen by connections of Alenquer to ride the six-year-old gelding in the race that stops the nation on Tuesday. But the $101 chance picked up a stone bruise to the hoof and was in major doubt on Monday.

Racing Victoria vets conducted an inspection on Tuesday morning and decided Alenquer was fit for the 3200m race. 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."

Oliver said on Monday: “He is not without a chance. I’ve got a great trainer who knows how to win the Cup and seems to be finding form at the right time.

"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.

"It's out of my hands. I want to be there riding a horse that can run close to his best. If he's not well, I'm past just going there to make up the numbers and ride in a race for the sake of it. But hopefully his foot can heal up in time and take his place in the race."

Calls for emergencies to be added to Melbourne Cup field

The late drama with Cleveland has renewed calls for emergencies to be added to the field for the Melbourne Cup. As it stands, horses who are scratched after the barrier draw can't be replaced, meaning the field is reduced from the maximum 24.

The main reason why emergencies aren't included is because TAB betting machines around the country only have a maximum of 24 spots. The cost of changing every machine around Australia is thought to be the biggest barrier to altering the tradition.

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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