The build up to the Caulfield Cup has had another day of drama with fancied Japanese runner and expected leader Bande one of two more scratchings from the $3 million race.
Racing Victoria’s head veterinary Dr Brian Stewart recommended the scratching of Bande on Friday after inspecting the stayer at Werribee and finding heat and pain in the stayer’s right-fore tendon.
Last year’s third placegetter Dear Demi was also withdrawn because of a throat infection, meaning all four emergencies have gained a start after Dandino and Gris Caro were scratched a day earlier.
The Gai Waterhouse-trained Sydney Cup winner The Offer was examined on Friday but was passed suitable to race.
He will undergo another inspection when he arrives at Caulfield on Saturday.
Unchain My Heart and Renew both gained starts as the third and fourth emergencies, with 17-year-old apprentice Regan Bayliss given the chance to ride $201 outsider Renew for rookie trainer Archie Alexander.
“Words can’t describe how privileged I am to be riding in the Caulfield cup tomorrow,” Bayliss tweeted.
Lucia Valentina is the $3.80 favourite to give trainer Kris Lees his biggest win while first emergency Brambles is second favourite at $8.50.
Lees can’t fault the favourite and has no doubt she has come on nicely from her Turnbull Stakes win.
“I’m confident that she is going as good as she can into a mile-and-a-half race,” Lees said.
Damien Oliver, meanwhile, is chasing a record-equalling fifth win for a jockey when he partners the Chris Waller-trained Hawkspur who is a $17 chance in betting having been unplaced as favourite last year.
If he can get Hawkspur home, Oliver would join the late Scobie Breasley as a five-time winner.
“It would be wonderful to win another one,” Oliver said.
Glen Boss, rider of Who Shot Thebarman, meanwhile, needs a Caulfield Cup to join a select group of jockeys to have won a Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup and Golden Slipper during their careers.
Champion Hong Kong-based rider Douglas Whyte had a walk of the Caulfield track on Friday in readiness for his first Caulfield Cup ride on the Chris Waller-trained Junoob.
“I’m very happy to be on him and on paper and on form, he looks a live chance,” Whyte said.