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By Graham Potter | Sunday, November 5, 2017

Graham Potter writes a weekly column for the Sunshine Coast daily. Due to demand from those having trouble accessing the paper these columns are now also published on HRO courtesy of the Sunshine Coast daily.

“Being a competitive person is what's made me able to sustain a long and successful career. The board felt I overstepped the line (on this occasion) which I accept. The main thing I want to put out there is I have total respect for the riders I ride with and would never do anything to put them in danger."

With that comment ... Damian Oliver disappeared from the 2017 Melbourne Cup picture.

He had been booked to ride the strong Cup fancy Almandin on Tuesday but the very serious improper riding charge brought against him for his ride on Happy Clapper in the Cox Plate last Saturday and the subsequent twenty meeting suspension penalty that was handed down to him summarily ended that arrangement.


Enter Frankie Dettori!

The colourful, champion, international rider has been handed the reins of Almandin on the back of Oliver’s disappointment and if he were to win the Cup next week on that famous first Tuesday in November it would be an accomplishment twenty four years in the making.

Dettori had his first ride in the Cup in 1993 and has returned on many occasions. To be exact, he has had fifteen rides in the big race, many for the mighty Godolphin racing empire who, like Dettori, have yet to taste victory in Australia’s greatest race.

The one sure bet is that Dettori’s hunger for the Melbourne Cup win that has eluded him for so long is undiminished.

Should Dettori reach that summit it would be a great story, not least because of the circumstances in which he gained the ride.

Such is the up and down fortunes of the players in racing.


Almandin, of course, races in the Williams racing colours.
The Lloyd Williams team are acknowledged specialists in finding a Melbourne Cup contender and preparing him for the big race.

Lloyd Williams’ five Melbourne Cup victories as an owner speak volumes to that point ... but that doesn’t necessarily set Almandin apart with that advantage as the twist in the tale is that the Williams stable will have multiple runners in the Cup on Tuesday.

What does set Almandi apart is that he is bidding for a back to back double in the race. Makybe Diva did win three in a row from 2003 to 2005 but before that you have to go back to 1974/75 to Think Big for that last horse to achieve that feat.

So the pressure is on Almandin and Dettori.

There won’t be any on Damien Oliver.

He would wish things were different.

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