Two More Cup Casualties On Race Eve

Image courtesy of perthracing.com.au
Damien Oliver is chasing his fifth Caulfield Cup on Hawkspur. Image courtesy of www.perthracing.com.au

Heavily backed Japanese star Bande has been scratched from Saturday's $3m Caulfield field after suffering a leg injury. The second favourite was taken out by order of stewards on Friday morning following a precautionary inspection. Speculation had been mounting that all was not well with the raider and the rumours were proven right when Racing Victoria vets found heat in the five-year-old's off fore tendon.    

Not long after that news, trainer Clarrie Connors pulled out mare Dear Demi because of a throat infection. The latest withdrawals mean all four emergencies get a start in the 2400m staying classic. It also see Lucia Valentina tighten her grip on favouritism.

The four-year-old mare has been the punters' elect since her barnstorming victory in the Turnbull Stakes a fortnight ago. She's won five races and been placed another three times from 12 career starts and already has $826,000 in the bank. If the Kris Lees trained mare can win on Saturday, she'll triple her stakes earnings. 

Lucia Valentina has only had one previous start at 2400m when a strong finishing third, beaten 1.2 lengths, by Rising Romance  and Zanbagh in the ATC Oaks six months ago. This will be her first start on the Caulfield track, but if jockey Kerrin McEvoy can find a way through traffic she will be mighty hard to beat with just 53kg.

Earlier this week, last year's runner up Dandino and lightweight Gris Caro were withdrawn. With Bande and Dear Demi now joining them on the sidelines, experienced mare Unchain My Heart and import Renew  gain starts. Brambles  and Araldo  are the other two emergencies elevated into the field of 18.

Japan still has a live hope in the race - topweight Admire Ratki . In a wide open market, Lucia Valentina is the only runner in single figures, with support coming for one-time Melbourne Cup favourite The Offer after he was declared fit, Chris Waller's inform stayer Who Shot Thebarman , Kiwi mare Rising Romance and Peter Moody's Lidari  at longer odds.

 




Chris Bombolas - Tatts Senior Writer

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