Defections, jockey switches and veterinary tests have combined for a day of Caulfield Cup drama.
As aspirations for some ended abruptly on Thursday, others were thankful they were offered a Cup lifeline.
The complexion of Saturday’s $3 million race has changed with one of the leading international contenders, Dandino, ruled out through injury along with import Gris Caro.
Racing Victoria stewards will also have vets inspect the Japanese stayer Bande and the Gai Waterhouse-trained The Offer on Friday.
They said the check on Bande was “precautionary” while Waterhouse reported Sydney Cup winner The Offer was showing signs of lameness.
Dandino’s withdrawal paved the way for Peter Moody to have another starter in the 2400-metre handicap with Brambles to join stablemate Lidari in the race.
And when Gris Caro was officially withdrawn because of lameness, the Mike Moroney-trained second emergency Araldo also gained a start.
Joao Moreira, who was to ride Gris Caro, was offered the ride on Araldo but knocked it back and will stay in Hong Kong.
Craig Williams, who had the Dandino ride, has picked up the mount on Araldo.
Luke Nolen rides Brambles, the equal third favourite now he has made the field, with Ben Melham on Lidari.
Last year’s Caulfield Cup runner-up Dandino worked solidly at Werribee on Thursday morning with Williams aboard.
But he was later ruled out because he was lame in his off-fore leg.
“He didn’t pull up too good,” trainer Marco Botti’s travelling foreman Paul Francis said.
“He wasn’t 100 per cent sound. Unfortunately it happens.”
While gutted, Francis put it into perspective.
“When two young girls have lost their lives in race falls in the last two or three days, it’s minor compared to that,” he said.
Botti still has a chance with Seismos.
Brambles is in to $12 with Lucia Valentina holding favouritism at $4.60 ahead of Bande who has firmed from $8.50 to $7 since the barrier draw.
Moroney has been keen to get Araldo into the Caulfield Cup and believes the import can run well after his last-start third in the Group One Metropolitan in Sydney.
“His best form is at a mile-and-a-half plus, he’s never run a bad race at his trip so I wouldn’t expect him to disappoint,” Moroney said.
“I think he’s one of half a dozen real chances in the race that will definitely get the distance.”