Big ride for Munce in Cup

IT’S been quite a ride for former Casino jockey Chris Munce to climb back in the saddle for today’s running of the $5.5 million Melbourne Cup.

Munce is set to ride $16 chance Daffodil in the biggest race on the Australian turf calendar.

But this time last year, he’d just been released from Sydney’s Silverwater prison, after becoming embroiled in a tips-for-cash scandal in Hong Kong in 2007. Initially, he was jailed in Hong Kong and spent many months sharing a cell with about 30 other men with no mattresses and a toilet that was basically a hole in the ground.

Munce was later transferred to Sydney to serve out the remainder of his 20-month sentence, but even when he was released he was unable to return to riding because of a ban imposed by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

That ban expired in Victoria recently, paving the way for Munce to ride Daffodil to fourth place in the Caufield Cup. Today he returns to Flemington, scene of his greatest triumph, the 1998 win on Jezabeel.

While many tipsters have listed Daffodil as one of their top three picks for the cup, there’s plenty of history and superstition that Munce will have to overcome.

Daffodil will jump from barrier 21, and only three horses have ever won the cup from that far outside, the last being Rogan Josh in 1999.

In addition, Daffodil will wear the No. 20 saddlecloth, and only three horses have ever won the cup with that number, the last being Gaulus in 1897.

Only 13 mares have ever won the cup, the last was the great Makybe Diva in 2005, whereas 49 geldings have been first past the post.

For those who back a horse because of its name, there have been eight winners starting with the letter ‘D’.

One thing working in Daffodil’s favour is that she is just about the right age. Forty-two winners have been aged four; 43 horses have won it as five-year-olds.

No doubt Munce will receive plenty of support from punters in Casino, where he was once a member of the pony club. And his parents, Jim and Gale, still live in the area.



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