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Another international Cup hope ruled out

4 min read

Written by Paul Vettise

The attrition rate for the Melbourne spring carnival is beginning to mount with the imported stayer Count Octave (GB) (Frankel {GB}) the latest casualty.

Aquis Farm bought into the ownership with Sheikh Fahad's Qatar Racing and the 5-year-old was transferred from Andrew Balding’s stable to Chris Waller’s Sydney operation.

“Following the detection of some heat in a foreleg it has been decided that Count Octave will not race during the spring carnival and will be withdrawn from 2018 Melbourne Cup carnival,” Waller said.

“It is very disappointing news to digest for both the connections and I.” – Chris Waller.

“It is very disappointing news to digest for both the connections and I. However, given he is a young and lightly-raced entire with exceptional form it was agreed that rather than risking his racing career it is best to give him a break and focus on a return to racing next year.

“No firm decisions have been decided upon his immediate future, however there is a likelihood he may return to the United Kingdom with a view of having him prepared to race for their summer carnival of 2019 and then return to Australia in the spring of next year where he can again be targeted at the Melbourne Cup.”

Count Octave has won two of his 11 starts up to 2400 metres and has placed over 4200 metres. At his latest appearance he finished runner-up in the G2 Lonsdale Cup behind the multiple Group 1 winner Stradivarius (IRE) (Sea The Stars {IRE}).

News of his absence from the carnival follows the withdrawal of Godolphin’s Emotionless (IRE) (Shamardal {USA} after tests revealed he has suffered a pelvic stress fracture.

Further knock back

It was a further blow for trainer Charlie Appleby, whose G1 Melbourne Cup hope Hamada (GB) (Cape Cross {IRE}) had to be humanely put down after fracturing a hind leg during a routine work-out at Werribee.

The stable still hopes to be represented in the G1 Melbourne Cup by Cross Counter (GB) (Teofilo {IRE}), although a cut leg has interrupted his preparation

Meanwhile, leading sprinter Vega Magic (Lope De Vega {IRE}) has also been ruled out of the Melbourne festival after tailing the field home in the Everest. Veterinary examination has revealed a sprained joint.

Co-trainer David Hayes said the chestnut would be spelled and return for an autumn preparation.

Yucatan saved for Flemington

In other carnival news, Aidan O’Brien’s impressive last-start G2 Herbert Power S., winner Yucatan (IRE) (Galileo {IRE}) won’t run in Saturday’s G1 Caulfield Cup and will head straight for the G1 Melbourne Cup.

Caulfield Cup favouritism is now with the Waller-trained Youngstar (High Chaparral {IRE}), who was a last-start runner-up to Winx (Street Cry {IRE}) in the G1 Turnbull S.

Waller has also confirmed the brief - but sensational, Melbourne campaign of G1 Caulfield Guineas winner The Autumn Sun (Redoute’s Choice) is over and a clash with Winx (Street Cry {IRE} not in the colt’s best interests.

The Autumn Sun enjoying a beach recovery on Sunday after his win in the G1 Caulfield Guineas

"I just don't think he needs that pressure just yet and we are best waiting for a bit longer." - Chris Waller.

“I just don’t think he needs that pressure just yet and we are best waiting for a little bit longer,” he said.

“He's not, to my eye, fully developed yet. He's going to round out and thicken up.

“Winx is rated the world's best so he has to be the world's best to beat the world's best. Why put a horse through the pressure when they're not ready for it?”

Second Cup chance

Meanwhile, New Zealand owner Humphrey O’Leary may yet be represented in the Melbourne Cup again, despite the absence of the G1 Auckland Cup winner Ladies First (NZ) (Dylan Thomas {IRE}) he races with his wife Fiona.

“Humphrey and Fiona were very understanding and I'm incredibly grateful for that. It's a sackable offence as a trainer, but they have been great.” - Trainer, Allan Sharrock

Their trainer Allan Sharrock missed the first acceptance payment with the 6-year-old.

“Humphrey and Fiona were very understanding and I'm incredibly grateful for that,” Sharrock said. “It's a sackable offence as a trainer, but they have been great.”

Humphrey O’Leary also shares in the ownership of past Cup placegetter Who Shot Thebarman (NZ) (Yamanin Vital {NZ}). The veteran can confirm a fourth tilt at the Flemington feature with a strong showing in the G2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup on Friday week.