'Diva Fever Rises as Three-peat Attempt On

The first part of the wait is over. Makybe Diva was given the green light Saturday (Oct. 29) to attempt an unprecedented third straight win in the $5 million (Australian funds) Melbourne Cup (Aust-I) Nov 1.

Australia has been on 'Diva watch' since she landed the Carlton Draught W.S. Cox Plate (Aust-I) at Moonee Valley Oct 22, to take her earnings to $11.4 million.

News--or rather no news--on whether Desert King's world-famous daughter would be paid up with entry fees for her third Cup at the final acceptance stage led almost every bulletin, on almost every media outlet all week.

Trainer Lee Freedman announced the crew's intention for the 7-year-old to take her place in the Cup field on national television during the Derby day telecast.

However, he, owner Tony Santic and regular rider Glen Boss told interviewers Oct 29 she will not run if the track is too hard. The Flemington oval had plenty of rain last week, but strong winds dried the surface out for the first day of the meet, Derby day.

Diva's crew have joined those of Vinnie Roe in asking for the Victoria Racing Club board to sanction track-watering if there in no rain Sunday and Monday.

Trainer Dermot Weld has again stated that Vinnie Roe will not run if the track is too hard. The Cup is to be the swansong for the pride of Ireland.

Mark Weld, son of the trainer, drew the outside post, 24, for Vinnie Roe. Third favorite Railings will break from post five. Christine Santic drew 14 for Makybe Diva.

Millions of dollars will pour onto her sturdy back before the race, at 3.10 p.m. and she could start the shortest-priced Cup horse in years. She was 11-4 prior to the draw and could be 6-4, or even shorter on the day with some give in the track.

The Diva will carry 58kg (128 pounds), 2.5kg more than she successfully carried in defeating Vinnie Roe by 1 1/4 lengths last year to become the fourth horse and first mare to land back-to-back Melbourne Cups. Vinnie is to again carry 58kg including Pat Smullen.

Now the wait is on the weather.

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