Frankie Dettori once again suffered heartache in his pursuit of a first Melbourne Cup victory.
And to make matters worse, he was demoted to fourth on Master Of Reality and handed an eight-day ban after a steward’s inquiry into the action in the last couple of furlongs.
It was the seventeenth occasion that he has failed to take the spoils in the ‘race that stops a nation’, and in a glittering career in which he has won pretty much everything else you wonder if Frankie will ever get to do his famous dismount in victory in Australia.
It looked for all the money that his Melbourne Cup drought – which dates back some 26 years – was coming to an end in the early hours of the morning, but his horse Master Of Reality just faded in the final furlong and was headed close to the line by Vow and Declare, the local favourite who secured an Aussie success in the country’s showpiece occasion.
The chaotic last few yards of the contest were examined further by the stewards, and they deemed that Dettori had impeded the progress of Il Paradiso, who finished fourth, and he was subsequently demoted from second to fourth.
Il Paradiso was promoted from fourth to third, and Prince of Arran secured second place in another success for British horses Down Under.
|Position||Original Result||Amended Result|
|1st||Vow And Declare||Vow And Declare|
|2nd||Master Of Reality||Prince Of Arran|
|3rd||Prince Of Arran||Il Paradiso|
|4th||Il Paradiso||Master Of Reality|
|5th||Surprise Baby||Surprise Baby|
Afterwards, all Dettori could say was that he wanted to cry, while Nick Williams – who owns Master Of Reality – said he was ‘shattered’ for the Italian.
And Joseph O’Brien, who trains Dettori’s mount, commented:
“I’m more gutted for Frankie than I am for myself. I’ll be back. I don’t know if Frankie is ever going to win this race.”
Dettori turns 49 in December, and he has been quoted many times as saying he plans to retire at the age of 50. The clock is ticking….
Frankie’s nine-meeting ban relates to all race events held in the state of Victoria, so while he won’t be seen in Australia for a while punters will note with relish that he’s off to Japan for a four-week stint very soon.
It’s not the first time he’s been punished for his desperation to win the Melbourne Cup either. Back in 2004, he was suspended for a month for careless riding aboard Mamool, and in 2015 he was again banned for 30 days and fined $20,000 for interfering in runner-up Ma Dynamite’s chances of winning the race.
Equine Welfare a Concern Once More
With equine welfare back on the agenda following another fatality at Santa Anita Park at the Breeders’ Cup meeting, and the Melbourne track itself cannot be absolved of criticism with six fatalities here since 2013.
Richard Freedman, the trainer and race commentator, made the controversial claim that the increasing number of ‘foreign’ horses was to blame for the increased death toll.
“Of the last six horses that have come to a catastrophic injury in a Melbourne Cup, all six of them were imported horses. The last Australian horse to die as a result of the Melbourne Cup was in 1979,” he told the Sports Sunday programme.
“Bringing them (foreign horses) has increased the visibility of those injuries, because it has happened to them. It’s not a good thing and they are at the centre of that.”
Thankfully, there were no further deaths at the meeting although Rostropovich, one of the 24 runners, did suffer a stress fracture of his pelvis.
And on a related note, Michael Walker – the jockey aboard Prince Of Arran – was fined $10,000 and suspended for seven meetings after being found guilty of over-use of the whip.