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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 September 2007, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK
Melbourne Cup survives flu scare
Delta Blues beat Pop Rock to win the 2005 Melbourne Cup
Delta Blues beat Pop Rock to win the 2006 Melbourne Cup
The Melbourne Cup is set to go ahead in November despite an outbreak of equine flu in Australia.

European horses are still expected to travel for the contest, which is known as the "race that stops a nation".

The valuable Melbourne Cup takes place in the state of Victoria, which has so far escaped the virus.

"As each day goes by we are getting more and more optimistic that we are past the danger period," said Racing Victoria chief Stephen Allanson.

Racing in New South Wales has come to a standstill due to many cases of equine influenza, and doubts remain over whether horses from the area will be able to race in Melbourne.

Jackane 24

The virus has yet to be diagnosed in Victoria, although hundreds of horses with high temperatures, which is one indicator of the flu, have been tested.

And European trainers are expected to send over contenders as usual, helping retain an international flavour for the world's richest handicap race, which boasts prize money of $A5m (2m)

Purple Moon, trained by Luca Cumani in Newmarket, is ante-post favourite with British bookmakers after winning the Ebor Handicap at York.

Cumani admits to "being on tenterhooks" over the flu outbreak, but intends to send his horse to Australia.

"At the moment we are just monitoring the situation," he said.

Equine influenza has caused disruption in New South Wales
Equine influenza is similar to flu in humans
Symptoms in horses can include lethargy, coughing, high temperature and a lack of appetite
Australian government has given A$4m (1.6m) in aid to racing industry
An independent inquiry has been ordered into Aussie quarantine procedures
"He won't have a prep here. I think we will see how he has travelled but we could look at the Caulfield Cup [on 20 October]."

The Melbourne Cup traditionally attracts a crowd of more than 100,000 spectators and Allanson said the European contingent are on track for the two-mile race at Flemington on 6 November.

"We haven't had any comment from any of our European trainers to say that they are worried about this," he said.

"As a matter of fact, the opposite has been the case where they can't work out what all the fuss is about.

"They are making plans on an ongoing basis to be here, so the Europeans are still on target to come."

Racing is due to resume at Flemington on Saturday, when a crowd of 25,000 is expected as the course reopens after 10 months following a redevelopment.

Flu hobbles Australia's racing world
31 Aug 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Equine flu hits Sydney racehorses
30 Aug 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Delta Blues takes Melbourne Cup
07 Nov 06 |  Horse Racing
In pictures: Melbourne Cup
07 Nov 06 |  In Pictures

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