Jungle Cat, one of three Godolphin gallopers arriving early for the 2018 Spring Racing Carnival

Internationals set to arrive early for Spring Racing Carnival assault

In the year in which it celebrates 25 years of international competition, Victoria’s Spring Racing Carnival will boast an unprecedented overseas presence with horses set to arrive in Melbourne three weeks earlier than usual.

Godolphin UK’s head trainer Charlie Appleby has confirmed plans to launch an early assault on Victoria’s premier races by sending an advance party of three elite horses to compete in some of September’s feature races. 

Group 1-winning sprinter Jungle Cat, last year’s Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) placegetter Folkswood and Blair House, a winner of this year’s Group 1 Emirates Airline Jebel Hatta (1800m) in Dubai, will go into quarantine on Thursday, 23 August. 

On completion of their mandatory two-week quarantine period at Appleby’s Moulton Paddocks stables in Newmarket (UK), the quality trio will board a flight bound for Melbourne and are due to touch down on Saturday, 8 September. 

Jungle Cat’s first run on Australian soil will be in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday, 22 September, the same day Folkswood is set to line up in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) – a race that carries a ballot exemption for the winner in the $5 million Stella Artois Caulfield Cup (2400m) on Saturday, 20 October.

Blair House is then due to step out in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on Sunday, 30 September, on the same weekend that the second shipment of European horses arrive in Melbourne in search of Spring Racing Carnival glory.

Racing Victoria’s (RV) General Manager – International and Racing Operations, Paul Bloodworth, said that Appleby was hungry for more success in Melbourne after seven feature wins across the past two Spring Racing Carnivals.

“We’re delighted that Charlie Appleby and Godolphin are once again keen to compete during the Spring Racing Carnival, and pleased to announce that they’ll be arriving early to take on Australia’s best here in Melbourne,” Bloodworth said.

“The presence of Jungle Cat, Folkswood and Blair House will add an exciting new dimension to our Group 1 meetings at Caulfield on the last two weekends of September, prior to Victoria’s marquee races in October and November.

“Our objective over recent years has been to spread the footprint of international participation across multiple races during the Spring Racing Carnival, and the early arrival of Charlie’s team is another step towards achieving that aim.”

When discussing his plans, Appleby said: “I’m very fortunate to have the support of His Highness (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum) in sending horses to Australia, and the main thing now is to keep the momentum going. 

“It can be a challenge for these horses because it’s a different routine from what we have in Europe, with the likes of the tie-ups in the hours before the race. That’s why I’ve always been keen to take geldings, as they seem to cope with it all.

“They’re great races in the Spring Carnival, we’ve had a lot of fun and been very lucky to pinch them a couple of times. I think a few other trainers might be thinking of pulling the same trick this year too!”

The early arrivals are likely to be joined on AFL Grand Final Day by several Godolphin stablemates, including Emotionless, a recent winner of the Listed Steventon Stakes at Newbury; and Hamada, who is fresh off a hat-trick of victories in handicap company at Newmarket. 

Both horses are set to be nominated for both the Caulfield Cup and Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m), the latter to be run for a record $7.3 million prize purse at Flemington on 6 November. 

Appleby will be aiming to enhance his highly impressive record on Victorian soil, having enjoyed enormous success during the Spring Racing Carnival over the past two years.

Last year, he claimed the Listed Cranbourne Cup (2025m) with Folkswood and the Group 3 Bendigo Cup with Qewy (2400m). In 2016, Appleby finished runner-up in the Caulfield Cup with Scottish, before taking out the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) and the Listed Sandown Cup (3200m) with Qewy, who also finished fourth in the Melbourne Cup; the Bendigo Cup and the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2500m) with Francis of Assisi; and the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) with Oceanographer.