The ebullient Gai Waterhouse is a notable omission from this year’s Melbourne Cup build-up after Hush Writer failed in a last-ditch bid to book a start.
It is the first time in five years, and just the third in a decade, that one of Australia’s most popular trainers has not been represented in the country’s most famous race.
Waterhouse claimed her first and only Melbourne Cup win with Fiorente in 2013, a year after he finished runner-up to Green Moon.
She hoped Japanese import Hush Writer could snare a spot in the field by winning the Hotham Stakes at Flemington on Saturday but it was not to be with the horse struggling on the rain-affected ground to finish sixth behind Downdraft.
“Most years we have had a runner so it’s a bit disappointing but c’est la vie,” Waterhouse, who now trains in partnership with Adrian Bott, said.
“He ran a creditable race. He was wide all the way and he prefers the firm track to the soft.”
While disappointed not to have a Cup runner, Waterhouse will still be part of Tuesday’s action at Flemington.
The stable will saddle up Runaway, who finished down the track behind Cross Counter in last year’s Melbourne Cup, in the Furphy Plate (1800m).
A $26 chance in early markets, Runaway will be ridden by Stephen Baster who has announced he will retire at the end of Cup week.