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Saturday 21 April 2018

Waterhouse thrilled as favourite Fiorente wins first Cup for her

Gai Waterhouse (pictured) became just the second female trainer to win the Melbourne Cup as she emulated her late father Tommy Smith by winning the world-renowned sporting event with Fiorente earlier today.

The former Michael Stoute-trained inmate joined Waterhouse just prior to last year's Cup and finished second behind Green Moon and this year went one better under three-time Cup-winning jockey Damian Oliver, claiming the AUS$6.2m prize after leading home the 24-runner field in front of more than 104,000 people at Flemington.

"It's very exciting and I can't even describe it," said the legendary figure of Australian racing afterwards.

Known as the 'First Lady' of racing Down Under, Waterhouse added: "He's a world-class horse. He's got an impeccable pedigree and he's very versatile. You dream about a horse like this."

Sent off the favourite for the race at 6/1, Fiorente ended a 20-year quest by Waterhouse to win the race and relegated the three times she saddled a runner-up in the race to distant memories.

"The last 200 metres I knew we had it won. He was just making so much ground on the other horses. I knew after last year I had a very good horse."

For jockey Damien Oliver it was yet another memorable afternoon and it was an incredible turnaround for the 41-year-old who is not long back from a 10-month suspension.

Oliver, who won the 2002 running of the race on Dermot Weld's Media Puzzle, had endured a lengthy ban for backing an opposing horse and using his mobile phone in a prohibited place.

"He is a special horse and I feel very fortunate to get on him for the first time in a race in the Melbourne Cup," Oliver said afterwards.

"I made mistakes and I have done the time and I've no problem in admitting that, but I am a believer in that if you do the time for the crime you should be allowed to get on with things."

Unfortunately, as the winning connections welcomed Fiorente back to the winners enclosure and to a rapturous reception, less than 50-yards away the groom of champion mare Verema was inconsolable as the race for the Aga Khan's first Melbourne Cup runner ended in the worst possible way as she had to be put down.

The Alain De Royer-Dupre trained four-year-old suffered a fracture to her off-fore after about six-furlongs.

Her jockey, Christophe Lemaire, said afterwards: "I was as confident coming into the race as I was with Dunaden. She was very big and the same type of horse with a good weight. She was a horse with stamina and a turn of foot at the end of her race which is all you need to win a Melbourne Cup.

"I was in a good position during the race and I was just waiting for the right moment to let her go."

It was initially feared that Brown Panther could have suffered a career-ending injury also but owner Michael Owen revealed afterwards: "A scan has come back clear. Only a superficial gash that requires stitches – we live to fight another day."

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