Marmelo’s owners: We want our horse reinstated

MARMELO'S owners have demanded an urgent meeting with Racing Victoria seeking the British raider's Melbourne Cup reinstatement as trainer Hughie Morrison accused local officials of hoodwinking him.

Ozzie Kheir, one of Marmelo's Australian owners, has sought legal advice after accusing RV of ignoring the input of independent vets before ordering last year's runner-up Marmelo out of Tuesday's $8 million race.

Marmelo and Godolphin's Ispolini were both scratched on veterinary advice after RV claimed CT scans showed the imports had significant injury concerns.

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As a devastated Morrison watched Marmelo canter at Werribee, Kheir demanded an investigation into the scratching.

He said he would approach Racing Minister Martin Pakula and the Victorian Ombudsman to seek "a full investigation over the processes that have occurred here."

"We want an investigation into the actions of Jamie Stier (RV head of integrity), Robert Cram (chairman of stewards) and Grace Forbes (RV vet)," Kheir said.

"We are seeking clarity around these processes.

"I do not want any other trainer or owner to go through what we have.

"They have made this decision without consulting with us, without talking with us.

"RV is using a new CT scan with no data, no research and a horse that has nothing wrong with it is out of the Melbourne Cup.

Marmelo (yellow/blue cap) wins at Newbury, England, in April. Picture: Getty Images
Marmelo (yellow/blue cap) wins at Newbury, England, in April. Picture: Getty Images

"We have advice from a world-renowned guru, an expert in the field (Dr Ian Wright) who says the horse if fit to take his place in the field."

In a scathing attack, Morrison said connections had been "hoodwinked" and a Group 1 opportunity had been "stolen from Marmelo".

"I certainly think they should because we've been hoodwinked here," he said.

"We've been brought here under false pretences.

"We think the interpretation from (University of Melbourne's) Dr Whitton or maybe Grace Forbes, who I didn't know was a CT expert, is incorrect.

"It cost us all a huge amount of money and effort.

"It's just sad really.

Ispolini gallops during a trackwork session at Werribee last Wednesday.
Ispolini gallops during a trackwork session at Werribee last Wednesday.

Morrison said RV is a "law unto themselves, not only are they the policemen, they are the judge the jury, the prosecutor and dare I say it the hangman all in one room".

Referring to the short time RV has had access to the new $1.3 million scanning technology, Morrison said: "A CT scanner in the wrong hands is a very dangerous weapon.

"The pre-travel protocols should be reflected in the protocols here, nothing has changed from when the horse left sometime in September to arrive two or three weeks ago.

"The goalposts seemed to have changed when we arrived and they have arrived again.

"It (Melbourne Cup) is a great opportunity when they get a Group One and that seems to be basically stolen from him by the decision which is based on little independent view."

Morrison claims RV had effectively blocked all attempts to put their point of view.

"We could not even discuss that and put our views in relation to that, we asked for it and we asked to make verbal submissions and they were all refused," he said.

Cross Counter (left) takes out last year’s Melbourne Cup from Marmelo.
Cross Counter (left) takes out last year’s Melbourne Cup from Marmelo.

"Marmelo is a magnificent horse, we love him and we would do nothing to harm him."

Accusing RV of using Marmelo as a "perfect target" as the industry "seeks positive publicity" in the wake of previous Cup fatalities and more recent reports of animal cruelty, Kheir said he would not attend this year's Cup.

"I've got Finche in the Cup but I've got no interest in going," Kheir, who owned 2014 winner Protectionist, said.

"I've got horses running on Derby Day. This whole experience has put me off completely."

Morrison said the drama would not stop him coming back to Australia.

"We love coming here and the whole build-up, but we're absolutely shocked by this," Morrison said.

"It's a terribly sad situation which should not have occurred.

"The technology has been there for only six week and the conclusions drawn are completely different to the analysis and report done by the world renowned and the very eminent Dr Ian Wright at Newmarket.

"Ian Wright has been dealing with CT scanners for years.

"He has viewed the scans and categorically said it is totally unjustifiable for this horse not to run in the Melbourne Cup.

"We love Australia, but this utterly appalling."

Trainer of Marmelo, Hugh Morrison, says: “we love Australia, but this utterly appalling.”
Trainer of Marmelo, Hugh Morrison, says: “we love Australia, but this utterly appalling.”

Marmelo was referred to the University of Melbourne Equine Clinic by RV to undergo a scan after showing signs of soreness.

RV said the results of the scan indicated "an incomplete fracture of the near fore cannon bone and an incomplete fracture in its off hind cannon bone".

Morrison said X-rays taken last week last week were "surprisingly good, they were clean".

"It is nothing to do with a fracture or incomplete fracture, it is bone remodelling," he said.

"They're justifying this machine and the vast expense by attacking us.

"The reason I was so confident I had reports from two vets who said there was no problem.

"You could think we are being used as a guinea pig."

Morrison checks over Marmelo after trackwork.
Morrison checks over Marmelo after trackwork.

Marmelo was runner-up to Cross Counter last year, while Ispolini was touted as his Godolphin stablemate's possible successor.

Ispolini has come under increasing scrutiny from RV vets and stewards after undergoing two separate scans at the weekend.

Stewards decided to order the horse's withdrawal after results of a standing CT scan indicated "pre-fracture pathology" in the stayer's right front cannon bone.

Stewards said the decision to withdraw both horses was made to "ensure the safety and well-being" of all horses and riders in the race.

The orders came as Saeed bin Suroor's veteran Red Galileo faces an uncertain future with a leg fracture sustained in trackwork on Wednesday.

Two other internationals - Red Verdon and Gold Mount - were last week ruled out through injury.

Marmelo cools down as Morrison talks to Lloyd and Nick Williams (right) at the Werribee International Horse Centre.
Marmelo cools down as Morrison talks to Lloyd and Nick Williams (right) at the Werribee International Horse Centre.