Twist in Marmelo stud tale

Last year’s Melbourne Cup runner-up Marmelo (GB) may yet still race again as an eventual spring campaign punctuated by off track dramas took another twist.

French stud Haras du Grand Courgeon announced on Tuesday that Marmelo would be joining their stallion roster ahead of the 2020 Northern Hemisphere season for a service fee of €3500 (A$5600).

However, Marmelo’s part-owner John O’Neill told that no deal had been struck with the stud based in the west of France.

O’Neill also insisted that the entire ownership group remained keen for Marmelo to continue his racing career.

“The entire ownership group, along with our trainer Hughie Morrison, are still actively pursuing the opportunity for Marmelo to continue to race competitively,” O’Neill said.

“We’re waiting for the British Horseracing Authority to get back with us in relation to a judgment on whether the horse is allowed to race.

“There’s been a number of offers for the horse to stand at stud. If the horse is given clearance to race, he won’t be going to stud yet. Nothing is off the table at this stage.”

Marmelo was one of the leading chances for last week's $8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) before his controversial removal six days before the race on veterinary advice.

Racing Victoria stewards withdrew Marmelo from the Cup, believing a standing CT scan 'indicated an incomplete fracture in the horse's near fore cannon bone and an incomplete fracture in its off hind cannon bone'.

Marmelo was due to fly out of Melbourne late on Wednesday night with travelling foreman Tom Pirie adamant the horse is healthy, partnering the Northern Hemisphere six-year-old at Werribee's International Horse Centre with regular exercise even after his exclusion from the Cup.

Morrison spoke at length about Marmelo's omission from the Melbourne Cup field on Racing TV's Luck On Sunday program. 

“He’ll be back in his box at Hughie's by the end of the week and we will then get a full vet position on the horse by the experts and have those reports for the relevant authorities," O'Neill said.

O’Neill said that provided Marmelo gained clearance to race on, the son of Duke of Marmalade would participate during the Dubai World Cup Carnival and possibly return to Australia in the autumn. 

“We’d certainly give thought to coming back to the Sydney Cup in April.”

Marmelo has raced 22 times for seven wins and nine placings. He won five Stakes races including the G2 Prix Kergorlay (3000m) at Deauville twice, firstly in 2017 and then in August 2019 at his most recent start.

O'Neill on Friday was one of Marmelo's part-owners that purchased a controlling stake of last week's Melbourne Cup third placegetter Il Paradiso.