The Melbourne Cup was left with 22 runners early on Tuesday after Cavalryman became the second horse to withdraw from the 154th version of the A$6.2 million (HK$41.8 million) race.

The 20-1 chance was scratched on the orders of the Racing Victoria stewards just a few hours before the start of the 3200 metre handicap (10am Hong Kong time) because of a swollen foreleg, local media reported.

That follows the withdrawal of rank outsider Sea Moon from the 24-strong field because of a high temperature on Monday.

Cavalryman’s scratching leaves the Godolphin operation of Emirati sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum with just one runner, Willing Foe, in the field. A Godolphin-trained horse has never won Australia’s biggest race.

Foreign raider Admire Ratki, aiming to become only the second Japanese horse to win the Melbourne Cup, remains the favourite at odds of 11-2.