The record overseas raid on the 2018 Spring Racing Carnival has taken shape overnight with 27 horses from across Europe now settled in at quarantine facilities in the UK and Ireland ahead of their trip to Victoria to compete in Australian racing’s most prestigious event.
Following the arrival of three high profile Godolphin-owned gallopers in Melbourne last Saturday, a further 22 horses – including multiple Group 1 winners Benbatl and Best Solution – last night entered a pre-export quarantine facility in the historic town of Newmarket, the epicentre of the racing industry in England.
A further five horses, led by dual Group 1 placegetter and 2017 Epsom Derby runner-up Cliffs Of Moher, have also commenced quarantine in Ireland at the private facility of their premier trainer Aidan O’Brien.
They will all spend the next fortnight in their temporary homes, before boarding a flight to Melbourne which is due to touch down on Saturday, 29 September.
In addition to the 27 arrivals from Europe, high-class Japanese stayers Chestnut Coat and Sole Impact will also enter quarantine in their home country today, and are scheduled to land in Melbourne on Monday, 1 October.
Their arrival will take the total number of internationals quarantined at Racing Victoria’s (RV) Werribee International Horse Centre to 32, which is the maximum capacity.
The European contingent is headed by Saeed bin Suroor’s multiple Group 1 winner Benbatl, who has accepted The Valley’s invitation to take on the world’s highest-rated horse, Winx, in the $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) on Saturday, 27 October.
Another notable traveller is Benbatl’s stablemate Best Solution, who on Tuesday was assigned the second highest weight (57.5kg) for the $5.15m Stella Artois Caulfield Cup (2400m) and the $7.3m Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Trainer Charlie Appleby is sending highly progressive stayers Cross Counter and Hamada from his Moulton Paddocks stable in the hope of securing a first win for Godolphin in the Melbourne Cup.
They will be joined on the flight to Australia by their stablemates Emotionless, a leading contender for the Caulfield Cup, and Comicas, who will target sprint races during the Spring Racing Carnival.
Other noteworthy raiders that entered quarantine include Roger Charlton’s Northumberland Plate winner Withhold, currently the second favourite for the Melbourne Cup; Count Octave, trained by frequent Spring Racing Carnival visitor Andrew Balding, who won the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes with Side Glance in 2013; and his stablemate Duretto, whose last run produced a gutsy victory in the Listed Chester Stakes at the start of the month.
Red Verdon, whose trainer Ed Dunlop saddled Red Cadeaux to three runner-up finishes in the Melbourne Cup, will also be on the plane; as will Prince of Arran, the well-travelled galloper trained by rising star Charlie Fellowes, who spent a year in Australia working for Hall of Fame trainer Lee Freedman.
Cliffs Of Moher will have company in the form of his stablemate Yucatan, who holds Caulfield and Melbourne Cup entries, plus fellow Ballydoyle residents Fleet Review, Spirit of Valor and Intelligence Cross, who will all target sprint races across the Spring Racing Carnival.
Ten of the 27 Europeans will remain in Australia once they have completed their mandatory two-week quarantine period on Saturday, 13 October having been purchased by Australian owners or sent to local trainers by their current owners.
They are: Dal Harrald and Pharrell (both Ciaron Maher and David Eustace), Langley (Darren Weir), Finche, Shraaoh and Casterton (Chris Waller), Gustavus Vassa (Team Hayes), Marathon Man and Sound Check (both Mike Moroney) and Danon Distance (trainer to be advised).
Paul Bloodworth, RV’s General Manager - Racing and International Operations, said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming some of the best horses from Europe to Melbourne for the Spring Racing Carnival. These horses generate great interest in Victorian racing both here and back in their homeland.
“It’s very satisfying to again see horses from some of the world’s leading stables targeting our carnival, as well as newcomers such as Charlie Fellowes who is hoping to share in the record prizemoney on offer in our major races.
“Going on his current international rating of 123, Benbatl will be the second highest-rated international horse to have competed in the Spring Racing Carnival, and 16 of the 27 boast an international rating of 110 or above so there’s great quality as well as tremendous depth among this year’s internationals.”
Following is a list of the horses in quarantine in England:
- Benbatl (Saeed bin Suroor)
- Best Solution (Saeed bin Suroor)
- Prizemoney (Saeed bin Suroor)
- Comicas (Charlie Appleby)
- Cross Counter (Charlie Appleby)
- Emotionless (Charlie Appleby)
- Hamada (Charlie Appleby)
- Count Octave (Andrew Balding)
- Duretto (Andrew Balding)
- Red Verdon (Ed Dunlop)
- Prince Of Arran (Charlie Fellowes)
- Withhold (Roger Charlton)
- Dal Harrald (Ciaron Maher and David Eustace)
- Pharrell (Ciaron Maher and David Eustace)
- Langley (Darren Weir)
- Casterton (Chris Waller)
- Finche (Chris Waller)
- Shraaoh (Chris Waller)
- Gustavus Vassa (Team Hayes)
- Marathon Man (Mike Moroney)
- Sound Check (Mike Moroney)
- Danon Distance (Trainer to be advised)
Following is a list of the horses in quarantine in Ireland:
- Cliffs Of Moher (Aidan O’Brien)
- Fleet Review (Aidan O’Brien)
- Intelligence Cross (Aidan O’Brien)
- Spirit of Valor (Aidan O’Brien)
- Yucatan (Aidan O’Brien)
Following is a list of the horses that are scheduled to enter quarantine in Japan today:
- Chestnut Coat (Yoshito Yahagi)
- Sole Impact (Hirofuma Toda)
Following is a list of the international horses that are currently completing their post-arrival quarantine at the Werribee International Horse Centre:
- Blair House (Charlie Appleby)
- Folkswood (Charlie Appleby)
- Jungle Cat (Charlie Appleby)