Fiorente wins Melbourne Cup, redemption for Oliver

Tue Nov 5, 2013 2:30am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Favourite Fiorente prevailed in a furious sprint down the final stretch to win the A$6 million ($5.70 million) Melbourne Cup on Tuesday and deliver sweet redemption for controversial jockey Damien Oliver.

Fiorente, runner-up to Green Moon last year, enjoyed a textbook ride in the gruelling two-mile handicap from three-time winner Oliver, who a year ago was embroiled in scandal amid an illegal betting probe.

Oliver coaxed the six-year-old stallion to the front in the final 100 meters to beat British stayer Red Cadeaux by three-quarters of a length with Mount Athos finishing third.

The win in the 153rd running of the Cup, one of the world's richest races, was especially satisfying for 41-year-old Oliver, who only returned to the saddle in September after serving a 10-month ban for betting on a rival horse in 2010.

His presence in last year's race aboard Americain provoked much debate as news of his complicity in the illegal betting scandal swirled in the lead-up.

Oliver was backed by Sydney-based trainer Gai Waterhouse on his return and he rewarded the grand dame of Australian racing with her first Melbourne Cup.

In addition to last year's heartbreak, Waterhouse also tasted the disappointment of runner-up finishes with Te Akau Nick in 1993 and Nothin Leica Dane in 1995.

"Gai was one of the first people to get behind me when I came back," an emotional Oliver, who rode 1995 winner Doriemus and Media Puzzle in 2002, said trackside.   Continued...

Jockey Damien Oliver crosses the finish line riding race favourite Fiorente to win the A$6 million ($5.7 million) Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne November 5, 2013. REUTERS/Brandon Malone