In a Cox Plate shock, the Joseph O’Brien-trained Irish raider Buckhurst was relegated to first emergency by the Moonee Valley Racing Club committee before the final field was released.
Part-owner Nick Williams said he found the decision extraordinary and could not understand the reasoning of the MVRC committee.
Williams said the thought of Buckhurst not being in the field had not even crossed his mind
He pointed out that Buckhurst had beaten home Master Of Wine in the Caulfield Cup and yet the latter had been given a place in Saturday’s race.
Williams also queried the selection of three-year-old colt Grandslam on RSN radio this morning.
The MVRC committee was forced to make a tough call after 15 horses paid up for the race, which is restricted to a field of 14.
MVRC chief executive Michael Browell said they went through the merits of each horse and narrowed down the last four to make the cut.
That quartet was Buckhurst, Master Of Wine, Sir Dragonet and Grandslam with Buckhurst the one to miss out.
“The one (race) that was front-of-mind with the committee was when they (Buckhurst and Sir Dragonet) met at Group One level in July. Buckhurst ran last in a field of six, beaten seven length. Sir Dragonet finished behind Magical,” Browell said.
“That’s where Sir Dragonet was able to elevate above Buckhurst. Buckhurst’s victory over Sir Dragonet was at Group Three (level).
“The club doesn’t have guidelines that are set in stone, but we have guiding principles. That was applied to each of the four runners.”
Buckhurst will now need a scratching to take his place in Australia’s weight-for-age championship.
Russian Camelot has drawn the outside barrier in 15 but his trainer Danny O’Brien says he isn’t perturbed as he has a great jockey aboard in Damien Oliver.
Perth mare Arcadia Queen drew barrier eight and replaced Russian Camelot as favourite.