Postcard from Australia: Tiberian in trim for Melbourne Cup

By Tom Peacock@tompeacock
Sun 5 Nov 2017

Tom Peacock gives us the latest news in the build-up to the Melbourne Cup and listen to Rupert Bell's interview with Olivier Peslier

By Tom Peacock in Melbourne

A final major press conference on Sunday at the Werribee quarantine centre with the usual routine of international horses having a leg-stretch and interviews largely featuring more of the same from the likes of Hughie Morrison about Marmelo, Iain Jardine on Nakeeta and Nick Williams, who represents his father Lloyd with an interest in Johannes Vermeer, US Army Ranger and Rekindling among half a dozen runners.

The last-named two had the most serious looking workout as they took in a lap of the track. There were, however, several new faces to get some news from

Alain Coetil has learnt from the master:

Quite a boost to the form of Tiberian came from the Breeders’ Cup Turf victory of Talismanic, a horse the Emirates Melbourne Cup contender beat twice in France in the spring.

Tiberian’s trainer Alain Coetil spent 15 years working for Talismanic’s handler Andre Fabre and he seems to have taken on his mentor’s often-displayed brusque confidence ahead of a big race. Coetil does not speak English and was asked whether his horse had any weaknesses. “No” came the swift reply through his translator, Tiberian’s breeder and part-owner Julian Ince.

Coetil smartly dodged any questions about possible tactics, to much mirth from the audience, and is clearly cooking up something with jockey Olivier Peslier. The decorated French pilot has never ridden in the Cup before and was given an 11-meeting ban for careless riding on his Australian debut on Saturday.

Olivier Peslier on his Melbourne Cup ride Tiberian

“I know some of the riders and I’ve seen many races on video. Now you have Google, Youtube, Facebook it’s easy, it’s not like 20 years ago,” he said. “You can watch it on the phone. I have the plan, and I know the horse.”

Peslier joked about his rivalry with his friend Frankie Dettori, who will sweep in late for his ride on Almandin. The Italian also has the race missing from his CV.

“He’s just won the Arc five times, I won four, so I said see you next year for the Arc. Maybe I’ve got the advantage now, because I’m here already.”

Hugo Palmer a relieved man:

Hugo Palmer arrived in Australia on Saturday, having been at the Breeders’ Cup only for the preliminaries before Home Of The Brave’s run in the Mile.

The trainer had been very grateful that some nagging paid off with Charlie Appleby, who had decided not to let Qewy take his chance and allowed his runner Wall Of Fire a guaranteed berth.

Newbury Racecourse - Al Shaqab Lockinge Day

He explained: “I was with a Godolphin horse out there and every morning I was saying ‘come on Charlie, what you going to do with Qewy?’. When eventually he said he was not going to run, that was a great relief.”

Wall Of Fire was a good second in the Geoffrey Freer before leaving for Australia, and an equally fine second in the Herbert Power at Caulfield.

Palmer, who spent a stint working here with Gai Waterhouse, said: “He’s very laid-back and I’m glad he’s had a run here, as he needs one to wake him up and bring him to his peak. He handled everything beautifully at Caulfield, it removed any nagging doubts I had. If he could pull it off, it would be unreal.”

Cup tour continues:

While the Melbourne Cup sells itself to an extent, organisers work hard to maintain its resonance as the people’s race.

The trophy itself is used as a marketing tool and it tours across the country, allowing the public to see it and have their pictures taken.

Lester Piggott

It is not a perpetual Cup and the 18-carat gold prize worth Aus $200,000 is kept by the winning horse’s owner. However, its dimensions have remained largely the same over the decades. This year’s version has been to 31 destinations across Australia, from tiny mining towns, wineries and farms and even as far as New Zealand.

The Cup made it to Werribee on Sunday and was never out of its keeper, who ensured anyone who picked it up was wearing special white gloves.

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