Stone bruise injury puts Damien Oliver’s final Melbourne Cup mount in doubt on race eve as rival scratched
Champion jockey Damien Oliver is quietly confident his Melbourne Cup mount Alenquer will be passed fit to give him a farewell ride in the race that stops a nation.
The Mike Moroney-trained Alenquer was inspected by Racing Victoria (RV) veterinarians on Monday after presenting with a stone bruise following trackwork on Sunday.
RV said the quirky six-year-old continued to show signs of soreness in the near fore hoof and would be reinspected prior to the final scratching time of 7.30am on Tuesday.
“It’s just a timing thing,” three-time Cup-winning jockey Oliver told reporters on Monday.
“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 maintained a relaxed outlook despite the uncertainty around Alenquer, hopeful of being given the green light for his 32nd Melbourne Cup ride, and his last before retirement at the end of the year.
“It’s out of my hands,” the 51-year-old said.
“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 (he can) take his place in the race.”
Fellow competitor Cleveland was scratched late on Monday because of an elevated temperature, leaving Newcastle-based trainer Kris Lees with one runner in the field – Lexus Archer Stakes winner Kalapour.
Tuesday’s 3200m feature could be the highlight of Oliver’s final Cup week.
Another win would mean Oliver – victorious on Doriemus (1995), Media Puzzle (2002) and Fiorente (2013) – equals legendary jockeys Harry White and Bobbie Lewis with four Cup triumphs.
“Four would be unreal,” Oliver said.
“To go out in my last year winning a Cup would be a dream come true.”
Oliver opened his final Cup week in fine form, riding a double on Victoria Derby day.
He steered Kris Lees’s Kalapour into the Cup field with victory in the Lexus Archer Stakes and scored 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.
Oliver 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.”