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Fiorente wins Melbourne Cup for Gai Waterhouse

November 5, 2013

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Race favorite Fiorente held off Red Cadeaux in a close finish to win the $6 million Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, giving controversial jockey Damien Oliver his third victory in the 2-mile classic and trainer Gai Waterhouse her long-awaited first triumph in Australia’s most prestigious horse race.

The six-year-old stallion finished three-quarters of a length ahead of Red Cadeaux with another 1 ½ lengths to Mount Athos in third place.

Fiorente was runner-up in last year’s Melbourne Cup, while Red Cadeaux was narrowly beaten into second place in 2011.

Waterhouse, the daughter of legendary Australian trainer Tommy Smith, and highly successful in her own right, had previously trained place-getters in the event but this was her first win in decades of trying.

“It was quite a solidly run race. Then he just kept trekking up and trekking up. It was just fantastic,” Waterhouse said. “It was a dream come true. I’m so thrilled.”

“I’m so thrilled for all the owners. I’m so thrilled for all the people that come up to me every day. It’s a race that stops the nation — isn’t it nice to have a favorite that can do that?”

The race was marred by a fatal injury to the Aga Khan’s first Melbourne Cup entry, French-bred Verema, who broke down near the 2,000-meter mark and could not be saved.

The five-year-old mare and early Cup favorite was believed to have snapped a cannonbone, a key supporting bone in the leg, during the race.

Fiorente’s victory made Waterhouse the first registered Australian female trainer to prepare a Melbourne Cup winner.

Wales-born, New Zealand-based Sheila Laxon was the first woman to officially train a Melbourne Cup winner when Ethereal took the title in 2001.

Oliver, who is two months into his return to riding after serving a ban for betting on a rival horse in 2010, thanked Waterhouse for giving him the chance and said he was proud to deliver her a first Melbourne Cup.

“She’s done so much for racing. It’s a great honor for me to help bring her home her first one,” Oliver said. “Gai was one of the first people to really get behind me when I came back. I can’t thank her enough for helping me get going again.

“We have been a great team together.”

Capturing her first Melbourne Cup reverses what had been an unhappy year for Waterhouse, who was involved in a public dispute with media mogul John Singleton, who fired her on live television as trainer of his horse More Joyous during the Sydney carnival.

That dispute centered on Singleton’s belief that Waterhouse’s son Tom, a leading bookmaker, was being given information on the horse’s condition than he was. Gai Waterhouse was fined for not keeping stewards fully informed of the horse’s fitness.