Cummings holds off Cumani's raid

The race that stops a nation seems to have precisely the opposite effect on nationalism. Few locals, certainly, will trouble themselves with the detail that Bauer, beaten yesterday by the narrowest margin in Melbourne Cup history, is trained by an Italian for a syndicate including a former Australian Test cricketer in Simon O'Donnell. All that mattered was that a breakthrough success for a British stable had been thwarted by Bart Cummings – the octogenarian titan of the Australian Turf, who had not only won the race 11 times already, but has also become the rallying point for resentment of growing European interest in the race.

Instead it became an excruciating, exasperating day for the raiders. Luca Cumani, beaten half a length with Purple Moon last year, this time flew Bauer halfway round the world to be beaten half an inch. Aidan O'Brien, meanwhile, was halfway through his dinner when summoned back by the stewards to discuss the feebleness of his three runners.

In fairness, Cummings expressed his regard and sympathy for Cumani, whose masterful preparation again brought the prize agonisingly within reach. Last year, Purple Moon looked sure to win after leading in the straight, only to be run down close home; this time, Bauer left his charge just a stride too late, failing by a nose to catch the 40-1 shot, Viewed.

"When I saw him coming down the centre of the track, closing, closing, closing, my heart was in my mouth," Cumani said. "I didn't know the result, it was too close to call. We are getting closer, and we'll keep trying. Although it is frustrating to be beaten so narrowly, on the other hand he has run a great race. We are very proud of him."

Connections of Yellowstone had endured their own, shattering frustration when scratching him on the eve of the race. Prior to his withdrawal John Egan, his jockey, was fined Aus$8,000 for saying on television that a couple of "tinpot Hitlers" would not spoil his trip – interpreted as a reference to the official vets monitoring the horse.

As things turned out, that acrimonious tone subsisted to the end and there was much indignation when O'Brien returned to Flemington, all three of the Ballydoyle jockeys having emerged stonily from an inquiry into their tactics. The stewards were concerned that Wayne Lordan, who made much of the running before fading rapidly on Alessandro Volta, had covered the first mile five seconds faster than the leader last year – an interval approximating to 30 lengths. They were evidently tempted to view his riding as designed purely to guarantee the pace for Johnny Murtagh, on the stable's principal candidate, Septimus. As such Lordan might have been charged with failing to ride Alessandro Volta to achieve the best possible placing, an offence that would incur severe punishment.

Having been punished clumsily over the riding of a pacemaker at Newmarket in August, O'Brien will have been infuriated by these latest disciplinary broodings, although the stewards ultimately exonerated the Ballydoyle team. Septimus and Honolulu finished lame, while O'Brien felt Alessandro Volta had also curled up on the firm ground.

All in all, however, it was a disastrous end to a year the stable had dominated in Europe. Its horses filled three of the last four places. But while the stewards might be accused of sharing something of the insularity and paranoia prompted by growing foreign involvement, there was another, more legitimate question to be asked. Why, barely a fortnight after the stable forced a hare-brained tempo in the Breeders' Cup Turf, did the three Ballydoyle riders charge six lengths clear in mid-race? O'Brien rightly argues that his pacemakers tend to ensure fair results, but at the moment they are instead giving the stable's rivals an advantage.

It hardly helped that conditions should have been so firm. That was always a risk, of course, and a measure of the many incalculable factors that make the Melbourne Cup such a high-risk adventure. "There's a lot we have to learn," O'Brien had said after the race. "That's putting it mildly."

His pioneering compatriot, Dermot Weld, has in contrast won the race twice already and Proud Beauty ran an excellent fifth, two places ahead of Cumani's other runner, Mad Rush. But it is an expensive, audacious business, coming to Melbourne, and people like Cummings should respect that. In turn, he already has the ungrudging admiration of those he denied yesterday. Cumani called him a living legend, and O'Brien declared him a very special man. "Maybe I could go and work for him for a while," he mused.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They make daily deliveries to most foodservice...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Planner

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They make daily deliveries to most foodservice...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - C#, ASP.Net, MVC, jQuery

£42000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is looking for a C# ...

Recruitment Genius: General Driver - Automotive

£15500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading Motor Re...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food