The owners of Marmelo are considering legal options after last year’s Melbourne Cup runner-up was controversially scratched from the race.
Marmelo and Godolphin’s Ispolini, trained by last year’s Cup winning trainer Charlie Appleby, were on Wednesday scratched from Tuesday’s $8 million Cup after standing CT scans indicated potentia problems.
Racing Victoria stewards reported Marmelo had incomplete fractures in his near fore and off hind cannon bones while Ispolini had an issue with his right front cannon bone.
Part-owner John O’Neil said Marmelo was going for an MRI as the owners looked at validating their position.
“There are a lot of issues with the welfare of horses and I would hate to think the recent incidents are causing Racing Victoria to make decisions based on that,” O’Neill told racing.com.
“I’ve raced horses for 30 years. I’ve won a lot of Group One races. I’ve been very lucky. I know a lot of people and I would never put our horse in a position where we would be causing any issues.
“Ozzie Kheir, one of the prominent owners, along with Phil Mehrten and myself have reached out to get some legal advice in relation to things and it’s certainly something we’re going to do.”
Marmelo’s trainer Hughie Morrison said he took horse welfare seriously and was questioning the assessment of Chris Whitton from the University Of Melbourne.
“We’ve had the major expert in this field in Newmarket, Ian Wright, look at these scans and he has put his neck on the line,” Morrison said.
“He has said that it’s not justified to not race the horse.”
Morrison questioned why none of the local horses had been subjected to scans.
But RV head of integrity, Jamie Stier, said local horses would be scrutinised after vets began pre-acceptance testing of all horses remaining in the Cup.
Stier said five horses had undergone standing CT scans this spring, Red Verdon and Gold Mount following their Caulfield Cup runs, along with 2018 Cup winner Cross Counter, Ispolini and Marmelo.
Red Verdon was found to have a bone injury and Gold Mount a ligament injury.
Chris Connett, travelling foreman for Appleby, said the Godolphin team was disappointed Ispolini had been ruled out of Tuesday’s race.
“Obviously horse welfare is at the forefront and always is with any decision with our team and when you come to different racing jurisdictions you have to abide by their rules, and that’s what we’ll do,” Connett told RSN927.
RV inspected the top 35 horses in the entry order on Thursday with Angel Of Truth and Raheen House presenting with lameness.
Their respective trainers, Gwenda Markwell and William Haggas, have elected to scratch the horses from the Cup.
The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Dal Harraild also presented with lameness in the left fore leg and required replating on the right front foot.
An RV vet will re-examine Dal Harraild on Friday.