Oh dear. While the British runners in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup covered themselves in glory by filling the first three places, it has now emerged that in fact one of them had also got himself into a bit of trouble.

Marmelo, who finished second after briefly looking the likely winner, caught the belated attention of the stewards as they pored over footage of the race’s opening stages. It became clear that, as soon as he stepped out of the starting stalls, Marmelo swung his head to the right and had a right old go at Avilius, who was unfortunate enough to be drawn in the next stall.

You can see it pretty clearly from the overhead shot at the start of the race. Watch the 10th stall out from the rail, which is where Marmelo starts from. Avilius drops himself out, possibly in response to the unwanted attention, but soon recovers his position.

According to one report, Marmelo will have an official warning placed on his record in Australia and will need to be cleared by a vet before he can race there again. I’m not sure how that vet will reach his decision; by goading Marmelo to see how quickly the horse loses his temper?

Marmelo is by no means the first racehorse to be so aggressive towards a rival. Bartholomeu Dias was gelded after trying to take a chunk out of a horse that was passing him at Goodwood this summer. Back in 1992, Arcadian Heights had to race in a muzzle after two separate attempts at biting others. Gelding also helped him but I feel Marmelo’s connections would rather find a less drastic way forward if they can.

In other news, it appears the man who sets the weights for the Melbourne Cup will be trying to make it harder for European raiders in future. Greg Carpenter, chief handicapper at Racing Victoria, was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying: “Northern hemisphere four-year-olds have now won the last two Melbourne Cups and will have to be reassessed.” Oh well, we’ve had our fun.

Hopefully, there’ll be some fun to be had with Return Ticket (1.50), who looked a fair prospect when winning a bumper and a maiden hurdle for the Jeffersons last season. He was beaten a long way on his reappearance but I reckon he needed that and blew up after travelling strongly for a fair way. 

The ground might have had too much juice in it for his taste that day but that won’t be such an issue at Musselburgh today, where it is mostly good to firm. I like him at the available 3-1 against a shorter-priced pair of four-year-olds.

Conditions are likely to be somewhat soggier at Chepstow, where plenty of overnight rain was expected, and that’s just fine for Marley Firth (3.10), who bolted up in a novice hurdle there on heavy going last November. He became a bit disappointing thereafter but has had wind surgery over the summer and this could be the time to catch him, first time out in a novice handicap chase, bearing in mind that he was a tidy winner of his only point in Ireland. Dan Skelton’s runner is 12-1 as I type.

Nottingham’s card is tricky but I see a case for the 6-1 shot Secret Potion (3.20), who has recovered his form in his last two starts after dropping down the handicap. A penalty for his Wolverhampton win still leaves him fairly treated against a field which is short on recent encouragement.

Nottingham 12.05 Queen Constantine 12.35 Surfman 1.05 Private Secretary 1.40 Fox Fearless 2.15 Mirza 2.50 Gnaad 3.20 Secret Potion 3.50 Debatable
Musselburgh 12.45 Andhaar 1.15 Good Boy Alfie 1.50 Return Ticket (nap) 2.25 Island Heights 3.00 Iolani 3.30 Lord Fendale
Chepstow 12.55 Head Lad 1.25 Ebony Gale 2.00 Whin Park 2.35 Laugharne 3.10 Marley Firth (nb) 3.40 Drumlee Watar 4.15 Chuffy Chuffnell
Newcastle 4.00 Young John 4.35 Al Suil Eile 5.10 Solid Stone 5.40 Harvest Day 6.10 Merweb 6.40 Cape Hill Cotter 7.10 Cardaw Lily 7.40 Bomad
Chelmsford 5.20 Flarepath 5.50 Jack Nevison 6.20 Coachella 6.50 It’s Not Unusual 7.20 Carvelas 7.50 Footsteps Forever-


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