Irish Cup Tactics questioned

Irish jockey Wayne Lordan was given the benefit of the doubt by stewards over his tactics aboard the Aidan O’Brien-trained Alessandro Volta who led the Melbourne Cup field before dropping out to finish 20th at Flemington yesterday.

Aiden O'Brien

Stewards quizzed Lordan regarding his riding of Alessandro Volta who chief steward Terry Bailey said ran the first 1600m of the Cup five seconds faster than last year’s first half of the race.

Bailey said the stewards had looked long and hard at whether Lordan had given Alessandro Volta all reasonable and permissible chance to run the best possible place in the race, a serious charge under Australian racing rules.

Johnny Murtagh and Colm O’Donohue, the riders of the O’Brien trained Septimus (18th) and Honolulu (last of 21 to finish) had earlier been questioned regarding instructions given to them.

An animated O’Brien explained the tactics used at length.

"I think I told the whole world (what the tactics would be)," he told stewards.

"I told Wayne Lordan ‘don’t let him break his stride’.

"I also said we’d like to have safe ground. The ground was like concrete.

"My horses all felt the track as did Profound Beauty.

"All we wanted was fair ground. Imagine the uproar if I’d taken the three horses out.

O’Brien said he would not have run the trio had he known they were going to perform so poorly.

Veterinary stewards said both Septimus and Honolulu pulled up lame, while the O’Brien team said Alessandro Volta was feeling the effects of the firm track after the race.

The trio raced 1-2-3 some six lengths in front of the field until they all weakened badly to be well beaten on the firm track.

O’Brien himself, who had left the track and was due to fly home to Ireland tonight, was called back to Flemington to face stewards after the meeting to clarify his instructions to his three jockeys.

O’Brien said his three were all stayers and he couldn’t see the point in holding them up.

"Wayne didn’t pull him back, he let him bowl until the mile then lengthen but he started to curl up," O’Brien said.

"If you think you have to punish the lads or me, I can’t see the sense in it."

After the enquiry, O’Brien said he was happy with the outcome.

Asked whether he would return to try to win the Cup he said: "hopefully".

By Mark Ryan