Lloyd Williams hits out over 'extremely weak' Melbourne Cup field

Lloyd Williams is pictured with a horse at the Melbourne Cup.
Melbourne Cup legend Lloyd Williams says this year's field is 'weak' outside of heavily-backed favourite Deauville Legend. (Photo by Paul Rovere/Getty Images)

Champion owner Lloyd Williams has controversially dismissed this year's Melbourne Cup field as 'weak' as money continues to pour in for favourite Deauville Legend.

Williams boasts the most wins in Melbourne Cup history and said Deauville Legend was the clear favourite, describing it as a 'very open field' should punters look beyond the favourite.

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With just one entry this year, the $41 outsider Serpentine, Williams gave his perspective on the rest of the field for RadioTAB.

The 82-year-old said there was no doubt about the clear favourite.

“It’s an extremely weak race this race when you look at the top,” Williams said.

“I think that Gold Trip is a good horse, but he’s won one race in his life and he’s the topweight.

“When (former chief handicapper) Greg Carpenter did this, he didn’t have a natural topweight.”

The field has been reduced to 22 thanks to a number of scratchings.

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

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."

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.

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

Point Nepean was ruled out on Monday due to an elevated blood result, leaving Williams with just one horse in the race - Serpentine.

“Robert Hickmott stable has advised RV Stewards that Point Nepean has returned elevated blood results and has been withdrawn from tomorrow’s Lexus Melbourne Cup,” Racing Victoria said in a statement.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

Deauville Legend has firmed as Melbourne Cup favourite in the wake of a number of late scratchings. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
Deauville Legend has firmed as Melbourne Cup favourite in the wake of a number of late scratchings. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via 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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