Leading Australian contender Durston withdraws from Melbourne Cup after setback

Australia's best hope for a Melbourne Cup winner, Durston, will miss the Flemington showpiece after suffering a setback.

Formerly trained in Britain by David Simcock, the Highclere Thoroughbred Racing-owned six-year-old has since established himself as a high-class operator Down Under.

After initially joining and winning for Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, the Sea The Moon gelding switched to the care of Chris Waller and was last seen winning the prestigious Caulfield Cup earlier this month.

In a market dominated by Europeans, with James Ferguson's Deauville Legend, Simon and Ed Crisford's Without A Fight and German hope Loft the top three in the betting, Durston was one of Australia's leading hopes - but he will not line up for the 'race that stops a nation'.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Waller said: "Unfortunately, Durston is unable to take his place in the 2022 Lexus Melbourne Cup.

"It is extremely disappointing, however according to Racing Victoria Durston's scans show what's called a 'grey area' and there is a small lesion in his left hind leg. The specialists cannot determine whether it is old or new or whether it is even something to be concerned about, but we must respect this.

"It is all about safety, for the horse and the rider and the longevity of the horses. It is very disappointing for all connections of the horse as well as my stable because so much time and effort goes into these horses; it's just heartbreaking.

"Durston is sound, he galloped well on Tuesday morning and my vet trotted him up following this, however we must respect modern science and learn from this. The horse will undergo an MRI scan to investigate further."

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