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Dick Powell's Melbourne Cup Blog--Monday.


Monday at Flemington

"Cup Day, and Cup Day only, commands an attention, an interest, and an enthusiasm which are universal -- and spontaneous, not perfunctory. Cup Day is supreme, it has no rival. I can call to mind no specialized annual day, in any country, which can be named by that large name -- Supreme. I can call to mind no specialized annual day, in any country, whose approach fires the whole land with a conflagration of conversation and preparation and anticipation and jubilation. No day save this one; but this one does it."

Those prescient words were written in 1895 by none other than Mark Twain in his book "Following the Equator." 114 years later, nothing has changed.

Cup fever is rampant. Today will be quite warm with a high around 90 degrees. Tomorrow, thankfully after Saturday's heat, will be in the 70s with a good breeze. A few small showers are possible but you can go ahead and handicap the card knowing that the ground will be good.

The only real Cup news is that starting highweight and defending champ VIEWED came out of his third-place finish in the Mackinnon Stakes with a scrape on his left-rear ankle that has been pronounced as nothing serious by Bart Cummings. The bettors do not seem too worried as his odds have dropped to $4.80 to 1 and he is now the betting favorite. Bart also trains the third choice in the betting, ROMAN EMPEROR, who is $8.00 to 1, and ALLEZ WONDER, who is $26.00 to 1.

When I travel I like to go walking. There's no better way to see a city than on foot. Melbourne is especially attractive with many sights within walking distance. Like Paris, most of the modern developments are on the perimeter of the older, more historic core. I am a block from the Flinders Street rail station which is right next to the Yarra river.

Yesterday, I walked around the city twice. The first time I headed west toward the Southern Cross railway station and passed a couple of off-track betting establishments that were run by the local TAB. There were a few minor tracks offered as well as racing from Singapore and Hong Kong later in the day which were also covered on TV here in the hotel.

Later in the day, I walked along the Yarra River and on the way back stopped in the Australian Racing Museum in Federation Square. Bought a video about MAKYBE DIVA and her three straight Melbourne Cup wins. If I can avoid the temptation to watch it now it will give me something to watch on the long plane ride back on Friday.

Got up at 5 a.m. (Melbourne time) Monday morning to try to follow my NY Jets' game against Miami. Made a healthy bet on the Jets on Saturday at the track with a bookmaker that takes American football. After Teddy Ginn Jr. ran a kickoff back 100 yards, why would you kick it to him again? I guess Rex Ryan's phony motivational gimmicks went up in smoke. Parcells had to be smiling.

The World Series will be on TV here in a few hours as the Phillies hope to do to the Yankees what the Eagles did to the Giants. At noon, there is a Melbourne Cup parade right outside the hotel on Swanston St. that proceeds down to Federation Square. Tonight, I am going to a dinner sponsored by the Victoria Racing Club and then it will be some serious handicapping for tomorrow's card. I'll print out my past performances found in the "International Past Performance" section on brisnet.com in the business office of the hotel and get to work tonight.

There are many feel-good stories in the Cup this year. Then there's the owner of MOURILYAN -- Ramzan Kadyrov, Kremlin-backed Chechen President. Having just fought off a coup over the weekend and being investigated by the British Horseracing Authority's Integrity Department, Kadyrov will not be in attendance but his participation has sparked a great outrage here.

Greens Senator Bob Brown is leading the futile charge to have him banned before tomorrow's Cup.

"The racing authorities did look at this fellow and went on police record, but they've got to be able to do more than that. Dictators, by the very nature of their positions, don't have police records," Brown said.

Brown went on to say that a win by Mourilyan would be "the lowest point in Australia's sporting history."

Despite all this, Mourilyan has a huge shot at winning tomorrow and is the ninth choice in the betting at $26 to 1.