Overseas Cup Signs ‘Promising’

Racing Victoria is expecting an increased international presence in this spring’s Melbourne Cup after receiving positive feedback from potential European participants.

RV’s general manager of international and racing operations Paul Bloodworth has been on a recruitment drive in Europe over the past few weeks and he told English radio presenter Nick Luck on his Daily podcast that interest in the Melbourne spring carnival is again on the rise after a notable drop-off last year.

“We had some well-documented changes to our veterinary requirements last year which created a lot of consternation, and we got a lot of feedback on it,” Bloodworth said.

“I feel like, with the passing of time, the attitude of the European trainers has seemed to softened a little bit towards coming to Melbourne, which is great.

“We did make a significant change to our veterinary protocols this year by removing the (mandatory) bone scan or scintigraphy as it is also known, and I think that has been well received by European trainers.

“So, as it stands, after multiple discussions over the last 10 days, it’s looking very promising for the spring.”

Eighth overseas-trained horses contested the 2020 Melbourne Cup with the raiders famously taking the trifecta when Joseph O’Brien’s Twilight Payment beat his father Aidan’s three-year-old Tiger Moth with Charlie Fellowes’ popular Prince Of Arran in third.

A year later, after the new protocols were introduced, just two overseas-trained horses Spanish Mission (third for trainer Andrew Balding) and Twilight Payment (11th for Joseph O’Brien) ran in the Cup.

Bloodworth said he was pleased with the reaction from the top European trainers to the idea of an Australian trip this year.

“A few trainers are still considering their options,” he said. “Trainers like Charlie Appleby and Aidan O’Brien have clearly got massive strings and lots of horses that would be suitable for Melbourne and in discussion with Charlie and Aidan they are still working out what horses they might be interested (in sending).

“A couple of horses that are very firm in coming to Melbourne are Simon Crisford’s horse Without A Fight, who has strung a couple of promising wins together and looks to have the right profile for a horse to come to Melbourne.

“A horse of James Ferguson’s in Deauville Legend, who won the Bahrain (Trophy) at Newmarket last week. It seems to be they are very keen to come to Melbourne and have been checking flight details and quarantine dates.

“We had a good discussion with Richard Hannan who’s Mojo Star looks to me to be the perfect Melbourne Cup horse and Richard is considering his options.

“Then there’s Joseph O’Brien, who trains the defending Cox Plate champion and has got several other promising stayers as well.

“Joseph will definitely be coming back and I am very, very hopeful that State Of Rest can come back to defend his Cox Plate crown. But there’s still a little bit of water to go under the bridge.”

“We have invited William Haggas’ Alenquer for the Cox Plate this year and I had a long chat to him at Newmarket last week and he’s very interested in the offer and is considering his options.”

Bloodworth outlined what connections needed to do in order to race their horse in this spring’s Melbourne Cup.

“For an English trainer, you need, pre-travel, a compulsory MRI that is then reviewed by a panel of experts that Racing Victoria has put together from around the world. Experts in that field.

“You also need to provide us with the horse’s veterinary history and we will be sending a vet to do trot-ups of the horse before they enter pre-export quarantine.

“Then, when the horse arrives in Australia, before they race, they need to have a sanding CT scan in the time that they finish their compulsory quarantine period and before they race.

“That removes the requirement of the compulsory scintigraphy. We are still retaining that on a needs-basis if, for whatever reason, our vets aren’t happy with the horse’s action when they first look at it or there is something on the CT scan that they are concerned about.

“What I can gather – I am talking the vets regularly – that will be the exception to the rule from this point onwards.

“So, hopefully that will make it a little bit easier for trainers to navigate our process and get the horses to Melbourne to compete for some great prizemoney.”

– racing.com

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