Melbourne Cup favourite gets Catholic blessing

Sydney racing club chaplain, Br Dan Stafford, has blessed Irish Melbourne Cup favourite, Yeats, as well as his champion jockey, Kieren Fallon, in the lead up to today's premier sporting event.

Yeats, who is striving to become the first original topweight to win the Melbourne Cup since Comic Court in 1950, and his jockey Kieren Fallon received the divine intervention on the eve of the $5 million Melbourne Cup, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Br Stafford, a Kogarah-based Redemptorist and long-time volunteer with the St Vincent de Paul Society, made the trek to Sandown trackwork yesterday morning where he blessed the Irish stayer and his rider.

Yeats, the champion stayer of Europe and the first Cup runner for the stable that is currently the strongest in the world, is expected to challenge for favouritism in today's iconic race.

The horse has enjoyed a trouble-free three weeks getting ready in Melbourne under the guidance of Fallon, the champion jockey of Ireland and England.

He has trained well, he has been in spectacular good health and he's happy.

"There's nothing I would have changed, nothing I could have asked for that he hasn't had," Fallon said.

"We're ready to go and run our race."

Yeats and the team from trainer Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle stable and the Coolmore Stud will be attempting to repeat the deeds of their countryman Dermot Weld, who has already won the Cup twice.

Where Weld sent his horses to Australia with a lad to look after them, Yeats arrived with two handlers, a vet, a security man, an assistant trainer - and Fallon.

The entourage has since grown to include people who make the jockey cups of tea with five sugars, the sons of his owners, the wife of his breeder and Br Stafford, who is the chaplain to the Australian Jockey Club.

At Sandown, Yeats completed his final piece of work, a 1600m canter, in smooth and easy style.

He then had a walk, a play in his sand pit and a brush.

By which time he was ready to be blessed.

Yeats Gets An Irish Blessing (Virtual Form Guide, 6/11/06)
Trainer confident of Japanese success at Flemington (ABC News, 6/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Yeats (Wikipedia)
Melbourne Cup website
Melbourne Cup (Wikipedia)

Full-time chaplain 'a must' for Sydney racing (Catholic Weekly 15/10/06)

7 Nov 2006