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Taufan's Melody in Caulfield shock.

TAUFAN'S MELODY, Britain's first-ever challenger for Australia's Caulfield Cup, may not be allowed to run on Saturday because he is not qualified.

Yesterday's sensational development stunned trainer Lady Herries, who is already in Australia supervising the preparation of her intended runner.

Taufan's Melody, due to be ridden by Ray Cochrane, has not won enough prize-money to meet the race conditions, and his trainer now faces an anxious wait to see whether the Victoria Amateur Turf Club can resolve the problem.

Lady Herries was alerted to the discrepancy only yesterday morning at Caulfield racecourse, where Taufan's Melody is stabled, and could barely contain her surprise.

"I'm stunned by the whole thing. I knew nothing about it," she said. "I don't know how it has got this far before it was raised."

The revelation prompted an emergency meeting of the Victoria Amateur Turf Club,

which stages the race, to discuss whether to replace Taufan's Melody with the first reserve, the locally-trained Our Unicorn.

And last night Our Unicorn's trainer, Colin Alderson, was threatening legal action if his horse is not allowed to run.

It was originally thought that Taufan's Melody-whose main aim in Australia is next month's Melbourne Cup-had qualified for the Cup on prize-money grounds after last year's Tote Sunday Special Handicap at Ascot, when he was first past the post but later demoted to second after an objection.

Under Australian rules, however, overseas earnings must be converted at the exchange rate prevailing on the first working day of the year in which the race is run.

In the case of Taufan's Melody, it was realised that his pounds 14,285 for finishing second was mistakenly converted to Australian dollars at a more recent exchange rate.

As a result, Taufan's Melody is short of the earnings qualifying limit written into the race conditions.

After frantic discussions yesterday, the race committee initially decided not to make any changes to the final field of acceptors, so sparing any embarrassment for themselves and for Lady Herries.

But that decision then prompted the threat of legal action from Alderson to prevent Taufan's Melody running unless they revised their position.

"Our decision not to eject Taufan's Melody had to do with our contractual obligations to the horse's connections," said VATC committee member Peter Young, QC.

However, Alderson countered: "If everything is clean and above board, I'm happy to be out. I'll take my chances. But if something has been put in over me that's not qualified then I'll fight."

Alderson and Young engaged in a 30-minute private discussion before Young emerged to tell waiting reporters: "I've expressed to Colin that I expect the rules to stand up.

"On current exchange rates, Taufan's Melody is fully qualified, but if one looks at the exchange rate back in September 1997, from when the race conditions apply, he may then not be.

"But we've invited the horse here and we believe we've got a moral and contractual obligation for the horse to run.

"We've made that resolution and believe it's conclusive."

Alderson, however, remained unhappy and will decide today whether to take out an injunction against the VATC.

Last night he was due to discuss the various options with Our Unicorn's New Zealand-based owners.

ON a day of high emotions and no little intrigue, Our Unicorn's trainer Colin Alderson captured the Group 1 1,000 Guineas at Caulfield with 2- 1 favourite Inaflury, who beat Danelagh.

Last week the owner of Inaflury, Danny Rose, rejected an A$1 offer for the three-year-old daughter of Zabeel.
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Brennan, Syd
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 15, 1998
Previous Article:Faithful Son in good form for Caulfield.
Next Article:THE NORTH: Fiori can claim his just desserts.

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