SATURDAY'S remaining three Victorian race meetings have been cancelled due to the extreme temperatures forecast throughout the state.

The meetings at Flemington, Wangaratta and Colac now join the picnic program from Yea, which had already been called off. 

STAFF bungling led to the unlawfully high reading of cobalt in Peter Moody's horse Lidari, senior counsel for the trainer told Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board on Wednesday.

PATRICK BARTLEY & LARISSA NICHOLSON report for FAIRFAX MEDIA that barrister Matthew Stirling also argued that testing procedures had not been correctly followed, a matter that threatens to stall the case until as late as February.

PETER Moody, trainer of unbeaten mare Black Caviar and three times Australia's leading horse trainer, faces his judgment day at the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary board on Monday.

PATRICK BARTLEY reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that Moody will finally seek to explain how his horse, Lidari, returned a cobalt reading of 410 micrograms per litre after running second in the 2014 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington.

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THE Victorian racing watchdog and an international sports integrity organisation will join forces to muscle up against organised crime figures, amid growing fears about doping and race fixing.

NINO BUCCI reports for FAIRFAXS MEDIA that Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna will announce on Tuesday that the International Centre for Sport Security will work as the commission's independent integrity adviser.

IT WAS hailed as a game-changer for women, a victory that was meant to have smashed through the glass ceiling in a sport dominated by men.

ANDREW CARDSWELL of the DAILY TELEGRAPH reports that one month on from her epic Melbourne Cup victory, champion jockey Michelle Payne can’t even get a ride in race meeting in Sydney.

JOHN Nikolic, the brother of disgraced jockey Danny Nikolic, has been warned off Australian racetracks for nine months after he admitted to treating Wonderful Jester with a prohibited substance moments before the horse landed a betting plunge at Murwillumbah in August.

BRAD DAVIDSON reports for NEWS LIMITED that Nikolic, a former Gold Coast trainer-turned-punter, admitted on Thursday to rubbing penetrene, a non-performance enhancing product, with an absorbent pad to “both sides of (Wonderful Jester’s) neck, front of his chest, over his legs and then his nose” in the stabling area shortly before the horse won a race at Murwillumbah on August 3.

SNOW SKY – Owned and bred by Saudi Arabian Prince Khalid Abdullah, the man who also raced and bred a couple of handy plodders called Frankel and Danehill. His trainer's last Melbourne Cup experience was in 2005, when Distinction hardly ran up to his name, finishing 19th. Finished fifth in the Caulfield Cup and would have been closer with a touch of luck. Unlikely to make it into the Bureau of Meteorology's four seasons forecast tip for Cup day, but can win.

CRITERION  –  A favourite among punters at the many Criterion hotel's across the country with his owner preferring that moniker to schooner, pot or pony. Spends a lot of time on the horse shrink's couch not really knowing whether he is a Kiwi or Aussie, being foaled and owned in NZ  but having been trained in Australia all his life, although he does not let it get him down on race day. He's proven himself across the world over the past year and it took an outstanding performance to beat him in the Cox Plate and that race has provided several cup winners in recent years.

FAME GAME  – One of the few horses that apparently best suited when surrounded by others. A slight problem when there are horses left right and centre of him and the winning post is not far away but that is how connections say he races best. The only hitch is that it often does not help his winning chances, as happened with an unlucky fifth in the Caulfield Cup.  His form at home in Japan is just as good as 2006 Cup winner Delta Blues and punters are confident he can get the job done. If he's unlucky again they can play the Fame Blame Game, also a favourite among racing's stewards. 

OUR IVANHOWE – He's attempting to become the second German-bred Cup winner after Protectionist last year. Apparently named after the Melbourne suburb by owners who struggle with their spelling but at least they got "our" correct. Good enough to run in an Arc and Japan Cup and before the imports arrived, a Caulfield Cup placing was as good a form as you could get for the Melbourne Cup.  A win would give Lee and Anthony Freedman their sixth Cup win and first since Makybe Diva in 2005. The youngest kid on track that day probably won't remember her winning but being 10 now, should have a better memory of how Ivan goes.

BIG ORANGE – What were they thinking naming a horse after an oversized fruit although his half-brother Big Apple has been a star on the New York racing circuit. Big Orange, the equine was an impressive winner in the 3200m Goodwood Cup two runs back, beating several of his fellow cup contenders, before failing on soft ground last start. As long as it stays dry he in this right up to his navel as long as his jockey can squeeze through the gaps and peel out at the right time in the straight.

HARTNELL  – An imported member of the Darley team but Australia-based rather than one of the many who have flown in specifically for the race and failed over 20-odd years. He was unplaced in the Sydney Cup earlier this year when a long odds on-favourite, and comes into this race off a lighter preparation, having not raced past the 2040m of the Cox Plate last week (where he finished off reasonably). He appears destined to provide Sheikh Mohammed with another beaten Cup runner.

HOKKO BRAVE – His jockey Craig Williams picked him out as his Cup ride many months ago but his Caulfield Cup run was only just a pass mark and he has hardly had track watchers at Werribee excited since then. The longer trip is certainly in his favour but the Melbourne Cup is a tough race for a horse to break back into the winning list after not saluting since October 2013. The post-race comment is likely to be "Hokko brave but not brave enough".

TRIP TO PARIS – The pilot apparently overshot Charles de Gaulle Airport but at least the Werribee Quarantine centre is at the Paris end of Bulban Road. He might have been dismissed as a plodder after winning over 4000 metres in the Ascot Gold Cup but showed with an outstanding run for second placing in the Caulfield Cup that he has the zip needed to be successful in Australia. Trained to the minute by the fastidious Ed Dunlop team, he won't be getting tired in the straight. 

RED CADEAUX – Post Bart Cummings, he's the horse that the once a year punters will latch onto as he returns for his fifth attempt at the Cup, having run second three times. He has not won a race in nearly three years but having picked up more than $4.5 million in minor prizemoney since, it's no wonder trainer Dunlop always manages  a smile after being beaten. Recent form is only fair but he thrives in Australia and if the 10-year-old can remember where the winning post is he has to be the first horse to go into the quinellas.

MAX DYNAMITE – Don't forget most of us laughed off the chances of Vintage Crop because he was a hurdler. His trainer says Max can't jump too well but it has not hurt his flat form and he relished the soft ground last start to beat a good field over 3300m in the Lonsdale Cup. He competed in G1 company at three in France, and Willie Mullins brought out another jumper Simenon to finish fourth in the Cup in 2013. He may not be able to blow his rivals away but can get into the finish at odds.

WHO SHOT THEBARMAN​ – Just another to add to the Victoria Police list of unsolved shootings around town of late and we thought being the bouncer was the dangerous gig.  A former New Zealander that ran really well in 2014 but found two of the opposition a little too good for him.  Still, an extra year in the Chris Waller yard can only have benefited him and he loves racing in handicaps at Flemington. Can get into the placings again but punters are unlikely to be drinking a toast to him.

Who Shot Thebarman during a trackwork session at Altona Beach.

Who Shot Thebarman during a trackwork session at Altona Beach. Photo: Vince Caligiuri

THE OFFER – He did not make it to the Melbourne Cup last year after being the early favourite. With racing officials looking for a new "Cups King" this horse just may be it, after adding the Bendigo Cup last week to his bounty of Sydney and Ballarat Cup wins. Trainer Gai gave a great Cup winning dress rehearsal for Tuesday at Bendigo and  bookies slashed his price to a still generous $41/1 after that win but even at those odds we are happy to refuse.

SKY HUNTER – Lightly raced six-year-old aiming to give Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor​ a long-awaited Melbourne Cup win. Showed his class with a placing in the French Derby but is yet to win past 2400m. The Cup has been a long-time target and he arrived in Australia on the back of a solid placing over 2200m at Newbury. Should have plenty of improvement to come and he has done well since his arrival. However the Godolphin Cup record says he's not in the hunt as far as winning is concerned.

GRAND MARSHAL – He won on Cup day last year albeit in the very much weaker 2800m restricted race. Showed his liking for the 3200m trip with a boilover win in the Sydney Cup earlier this year. His lead-up form has been far from inspiring and was safely held in the Caulfield Cup. That he is trained by Chris Waller is about the only fact that lends any credibility to his chances and he looks likely to be 'hollering for a Marshall' in the run home. 

QUEST FOR MORE – Had been racing in the best form of his career before heading to Australia. Ran second to Big Orange and beat home Caulfield Cup runner-up Trip To Paris in 3200m Goodwood Cup and defeated Max Dynamite over 3200m before that. However his local debut was poor, beating just one runner home in the Geelong Cup after racing wide without cover. He is better than that but appears capable of taking home only small change in his the quest for Aussie dollars.

PREFERMENT – One of the best staying three-year-olds of last season, he has gone to another level as a four-year-old, with highly impressive wins in Melbourne and Sydney at WFA and set weights. He missed the Caulfield Cup to concentrate on this race and don't be fooled by his Cox Plate failure, where the pattern of the day was against him. He's trained by Chris Waller, is a Victoria Derby winner and is by Zabeel. How could a punter prefer anything else?

KINGFISHER – Yet another runner part-owned by Lloyd Williams. His key form reference is an unlucky second placing behind Caulfield Cup runner-up Trip to Paris in the Ascot Gold Cup over 4000m three runs back. His past two starts have been uninspiring, having been beaten by a total of 59 lengths. But if Williams and genius Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien​ can overlook those efforts who are we to argue? He'll be flying home but the question is how quickly and it is hard to see him winning.

ALMOONQITH – Much travelled American-bred galloper that has won up to 2800m in Dubai. Highly impressive when defeating a quality field in the Geelong Cup. That race has proven to be a great guide to the Melbourne Cup in recent years with Americain, a horse by the same sire, completing the double. Unlike his brother Sheikh Mohammed, Almoonqith's owner Sheikh Hamdan has already won two Melbourne Cups and he looks to have the better chance of retaining bragging rights again.

PRINCE OF PENZANCE – This is the race he has been aimed at and he showed he is starting to run into his best form when running a good second in the Moonee Valley Cup last. His trainer Darren Weir has produced a runner-up and fourth placegetter from only a handful of Melbourne Cup runners so has a fair idea of what is required to win the Cup. He will start at a princely price and with a nice weight he's just the sort to throw into the multiples.

SERTORIUS – An Australian-bred son of the world's leading sire Galileo, he has always been a just a shade below top class. His trainer has always been very patient with him but as an eight-year-old his best may be past him as far as being a genuine Cup contender in the modern era.  His lead-in form has been ordinary and he appeared to have every chance in Geelong Cup. His name may rhyme with victorious but it is unlikely to be heard in the same sentence on Tuesday afternoon.

THE UNITED STATES – He had been progressing nicely through the grades this preparation, before charging into the Cup off the back of strong finishing effort to win the Moonee Valley Cup and gets in with a nice weight even after a 2.5kg penalty. The longer trip should not be a problem and with a good run he comes into calculations. If Air Force One is seen arriving at Tullamarine on Tuesday morning get on.

SECRET NUMBER – The name of the game in winning handicaps is getting into a race with a light weight. Saeed bin Suroor has managed it with this horse and just snuck him into the field. He is only lightly raced for a six-year-old and has had only one start since September 2014. That was in September this year when he was impressive in winning a listed event over 2500m at Chester. Capable of racing handy and with his nice weight must be numbered among the chances.

BONDI BEACH – After losing, then winning and then losing again in the English St Leger, this three-year-old to northern hemisphere time may well carry emotional baggage with him to Australia. He's one of Aidan O'Brien's first Cup runners since that dark year in 2008 for the O'Brien clan when local Danny O'Brien chipped in with Barbaricus to help out his distant Irish cousin to fill the last four placings.  He looks a staying star in the making and with Brett Prebble jetting in from Hong Kong to ride him he's unlikely to let the big boys kick sand in his nostrils.

GUST OF WIND – Finished more like a hurricane to score an unbelievable maiden win at Scone earlier this year en route to an Australian Oaks victory where she beat a handy filly named Winx. Good effort to finish just behind the placegetters in the Caulfield Cup and should be better suited on the bigger track at Flemington.  Like many, an unknown at the trip but with a nice run in transit she may be able to breeze past a few and get into the placings. 

EXCESS KNOWLEDGE – Import which forced his way into the Cup with a tough win on Saturday in the Lexus over 2500m and then withstood a protest. That was his best win in Australia but he did start at just $5.50 when finishing down the track in English St Leger prior to coming to Australia. He's by the same sire as Gai Waterhouse's first Cup winner Fiorente but does not boast the same form. A little knowledge might be dangerous but an excess is unlikely to scare his rivals and place claims appear best.

 

SOME of Victoria's most respected racehorse owners have rallied around chief steward Terry Bailey and his integrity department after the gun attack on Bailey's home that rocked the racing world earlier this week.

PATRICK BARTLEY reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that almost 40 of the industry's top names have bought prominent advertising space in the state's two leading newspapers, Fairfax's The Age and News Ltd's Herald Sun, to show their support.

FLEMINGTON racecourse once again becomes host to Australia's biggest week-long party this weekend, but Sunday night's shooting at the house of Racing Victoria's chief steward, Terry Bailey, is a reminder that the sport of kings is also the sport of crims.

RICHARD BAKER reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that the euphemism "colourful racing identity" exists for a very good reason. Racing in Australia has always been irresistible to rogues – including those with a genuine passion for the sport – because it offers them ample opportunity to make fresh money and launder the dirty cash they've made elsewhere.

TRY as they might, it was difficult for racing’s cheerleaders to conjure up a carnival mood at Flemington racecourse on Monday.

RON REED reports for the HERALD SUN that this was the official launch of the most enjoyable two weeks Melbourne celebrates in just about any given year, but a chill wind blew in more ways than one _ and the proffered champagne was left mostly undrunk _ as Racing Minister Martin Pakula was obliged to begin proceedings with a media update on the unthinkable news from overnight.

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