SYDNEY // The Irish jockey John Egan was fined A$8,000 (Dh19,700) today for describing Australian veterinary surgeons as a "couple of tin pot Hitlers". Egan made the remark at the weekend after vets ordered his mount Yellowstone to undergo an additional fitness test before being allowed to run in Tuesday's Melbourne Cup. Yellowstone injured his hip in his stall last week and was eventually scratched on the eve of the race on vet's advice.
Australian racing stewards, who have the power to stop a horse running in a race if vets deem it to be unfit, took a dim view of Egan's remarks, charging him with bringing the sport into disrepute. Egan pleaded guilty to the offence but said his remarks were not aimed at the vets. The Racing Appeals Disciplinary Board chairman Russell Lewis described Egan as an unreliable witness whose comments were reprehensible.
Yellowstone was not among the favourites in pre-Cup betting. Luca Cumani-trained Mad Rush, to be ridden by Damien Oliver, was firming as the favourite, with Aiden O'Brien-trained Irish St Ledger winner and topweight Septimus easing in the market due to the likelihood of a hard track at Flemington. Oliver rode Purple Moon to second place for Cumani in last year's Melbourne Cup. Oliver won the Cup with Doriemus in 1995 and had an emotional victory on Irish stayer Media Puzzle six years ago, a week after his jockey brother Jason was killed in a trackwork fall.
Zarita, trained by Pat Hyland, was scratched from the Cup today due to a respiratory infection, leaving a field of 23 for the race. *Agencies