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[an error occurred while processing this directive] Tuesday, 6 November, 2001, 04:27 GMT
Ethereal seals Melbourne win
Scott Seamer guides Ethereal to victory
Ethereal won by three-quarters of a length
Ethereal claimed the Tooheys New Melbourne Cup for New Zealand with a late burst in Australia's richest horse race.

Long-time race leader Give the Slip looked to have snatched a maiden victory for Britain at Flemington.

But four-year-old mare Ethereal, winner of the Caulfield Cup, got up in the last few strides to win by three-quarters of a length.

Another British horse, nine-year-old gelding Persian Punch, matched his performance of three years ago by finishing third, a further six lengths adrift.

Some people thought I couldn't do it so I'm glad to have vindicated everyone who kept faith in me
Trainer Sheila Laxon

Ethereal's win meant that trainer Sheila Laxon became the first woman to train the winner of Australia's great handicap since it was first run in 1861.

Another New Zealand woman, "Granny" McDonald, trained the 1938 winner Catalogue but was never credited with the achievement because Victorian state laws at the time prevented women from holding trainer's licences.

"Some people thought I couldn't do it so I'm glad to have vindicated everyone who kept faith in me," said Laxon, whose husband Laurie trained the 1988 winner Empire Rose.

Jockey injured

Ethereal's owners only decided to enter the mare in the race after she won October's Caulfield Cup, the traditional lead-up to the major event on the Australian racing calendar.

Long-time favourite Universal Prince was ruled unfit to run by veterinarians on Tuesday morning despite protests from its connections.

Another well-backed runner, Kaapstad Way, was withdrawn an hour before the race when the track rating was downgraded to dead following hours of heavy rain.

Jockey Corey Brown was taken to hospital for x-rays after his mount Hill Of Grace fell during the race and Seamer injured his ankle when Ethereal reared up and fell back on a fence as she returned to paddock.

I'm very happy, and he was beaten by a better horse
Saeed Bin Suroor
Seamer said of the winner: "She tried her heart out, she is one of the best horses I have been on."

Godolphin trainer Saeed Bin Suroor said he thought Give the Slip was going to win.

He said: "Give the Slip ran a bit keen in the race, too hard, I think, in the middle stages.

"But I'm very happy, and he was beaten by a better horse.

"She's a great horse, the winner, and it was a great ride from the jockey."

BBC Sport's Jim McGrath
"Give the Slip so nearly carried off Australia's most coveted prize"
Final flourish
BBC Sport presents the final exciting moments of the Melbourne Cup
Winning jockey Scott Seamer
"This is a dream come true for me"
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