Oliver faces anxious wait ahead of final Melbourne Cup

Alenquer could be scratch from the 2023 Melbourne Cup
Alenquer could be scratched from the Melbourne Cup, which would leave Damien Oliver without a ride in his final cup. (Photo by Reg Ryan/Racing Photos)

Champion jockey Damien Oliver faces an anxious wait until Tuesday morning to determine whether his final Melbourne Cup mount, Alenquer, will be scratched from the prestigious race.

Stewards have announced that the ultimate decision on Alenquer’s fitness will be rendered at 7.30am on Melbourne Cup day.

This Melbourne Cup would mark Oliver’s 32nd and last appearance in the iconic event and the Hollywood nature of his career, despite Alenquer being a longshot at $51, means you cannot rule him out.

Also read: Damien Oliver in the Melbourne Cup

In the face of the uncertainty, Oliver displayed a philosophical outlook, saying his primary concern was for the horse’s well-being. He said if stewards deemed Alenquer unfit to race, he would accept their decision without hesitation.

However, a potential withdrawal would be a cruel twist of fate for the champion jockey, who missed out on participating in last year’s Cup when Durston was ruled out due to injury. Before that, Oliver had only been absent from the Cup twice since his debut in the race in 1989.

“It’s all about timing, but if I’m going to have a ride, I want it to be on a fit, healthy horse,” Oliver said.

“If the horse isn’t right, he’s not right. I’ve ridden in enough Melbourne Cups not to have a ride just for the sake of participation. I know it’s my last, but I want the horse to be in prime condition if I’m going to compete.”

Trainer Michael Moroney revealed Alenquer was suffering from stone bruises on his near fore foot on Sunday, with stewards promptly declaring they would do an inspection on race morning.

Having secured a double victory on Derby Day, Oliver commenced his final Flemington Carnival in fine form. He intends to ride for the last time in Victoria on Thousand Guineas Day at Caulfield in less than two weeks.

While all other horses are scheduled to undergo pre-race veterinary inspections on Monday afternoon, the fate of Alenquer remains in limbo, adding an element of suspense and drama to this year’s Melbourne Cup.

You can view the full Melbourne Cup field here, or check out our expert Melbourne Cup tips and full preview.

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