Captured South African journalist Shiraaz Mohamed is alive in Syria and could be home within a month.
THE preoccupation with legendary trainer Bart Cummings and second-string entries by Godolphin and Luca Cumani mean international horses are under the radar for today's Melbourne Cup.
Cummings has the joint favourite Viewed and third bookies' pick Roman Emperor in his quest for a 13th Melbourne Cup. He has dominated headlines ahead of Australia's great race over 3200metres at Flemington.
For the first time in years there has been little said about the chances of one of this year's six overseas raiders becoming only the fourth internationally trained galloper to land the Melbourne Cup.
Since Australia's iconic horse race went global in 1993, only Vintage Crop (1993) and Media Puzzle (2002), both trained by Irishman Dermot Weld, and Japan's Delta Blues (2006) have won Australia's most coveted racing prize.
But in the most open Melbourne Cup in years, chances are high that an overseas-trained horse will win the R22,8million first prize.
The global Godolphin empire, which has fielded a dozen runners in the Cup without success, is saddling up Crime Scene as its Melbourne Cup starter after deciding not to enter Kirklees.
Crime Scene (50/1), is to be ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, who won the 2000 Melbourne Cup on Brew and was a one-time retained rider for Godolphin.
Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor, who has finished second twice in the Melbourne Cup with Central Park (1999) and Give The Slip (2001), relishes the lower expectations this year.
"Crime Scene looks very well, happy and in good form. He has never raced over the distance but has every chance of staying. We're going into the race with no pressure, which is a nice position to be in," he said.
Newmarket trainer Luca Cumani has also experienced the heartbreak of just missing out on the big prize, finishing runner-up in the past two years with Purple Moon and Bauer. Cumani scratched his first choice, Cima de Triomphe, and will send in Basaltico (20/1) as his stable's runner today.
"He has a chance similar to that Bauer had last year, though whether he has quite the same tactical speed as Bauer is another matter," he said.
Mourilyan, trained by South African Herman Brown, is a last-start winner at Goodwood but has generated some controversy here through his ownership by Chechnya President Ramzan Kadyrov, angering activists who object to Kadyrov's human rights record.
The six-year-old is listed at 20/1 and will be ridden by Glyn Schofield.
English trainer Ian Williams is keen on the chances of his eight-year-old gelding Munsef (50/1), who comes into the Cup with good overseas form. - Sapa-AFP