Gold Mount, trained by Ian Williams, is one of 18 horses on the first European shipment

Gold Mount, trained by Ian Williams, is one of 18 horses on the first European shipment

First fleet of Europeans enter quarantine ahead of raid on Victorian Spring Racing Carnival

Eighteen European horses have begun the first phase of their mission to conquer the 2019 Victorian Spring Racing Carnival after entering quarantine facilities in the English town of Newmarket.  

The 18 gallopers – 11 of which are owned in Australian interests and six of which are destined for local stables – will spend the next fortnight in quarantine in the UK before boarding a plane which is scheduled to touch down in Melbourne on AFL Grand Final Day (28 September).

In 2018, the Spring Racing Carnival celebrated 25 years of international competition and, appropriately, also welcomed its 250th overseas visitor to Victorian soil. 

This year’s first fleet of overseas raiders, who will be free to chase the record $102 million in prizemoney and bonuses on offer once they have completed their post-export quarantine period at Racing Victoria’s Werribee International Horse Centre, appear well equipped to continue the international success story of Australian racing’s pre-eminent carnival. 

The joint highest-rated passengers on the shipment are Danceteria (trained by Frenchman David Menuisier), Royal Meeting (Saeed bin Suroor) and Mirage Dancer, who was under the care of Sir Michael Stoute but will join the Cranbourne stable of Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young. 

Last-start German Group 1 winner Danceteria, who was acquired by the Australian Bloodstock syndicate earlier this year, is on a path towards the Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) after connections accepted an international invitation from the Moonee Valley Racing Club to compete in Australasia’s weight-for-age championship on Saturday, 26 October.

Royal Meeting boasts a flawless record, having won both his career starts including most recently in the Group 1 Criterium International at Chantilly (France), where he beat a quality field which included Aidan O’Brien’s flying filly Hermosa.

The northern hemisphere three-year-old colt is one of three raiders from the Godolphin stable run by the 2018 Stella Artois Caulfield Cup (2400m) winning trainer Saeed bin Suroor, with Ebor Handicap runner-up Red Galileo and Cox Plate contender Dream Castle having also entered quarantine.

The horse Red Galileo chased home in the York showpiece, the Australian Bloodstock-owned Mustajeer, is also set to arrive in Melbourne later this month to join the Kris Lees stable.

Fellow traveller Raymond Tusk, a fast-finishing fourth behind Mustajeer in the time-honoured Ebor Handicap, will represent renowned trainer Richard Hannon’s first foray to Australian shores.           

In contrast, Ian Williams is a frequent visitor to the Spring Racing Carnival – most recently with Magic Circle – and this year he will be represented by his progressive stayer Gold Mount, who holds entries for both the Caulfield Cup and the Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m).

The same applies to Ed Dunlop, who brings Red Verdon back for the second time, having run him in last year’s Caulfield Cup. Red Verdon’s most recent win came by a neck over Gold Mount in the Group 3 Silver Cup Stakes at York in July.

Another horse very familiar to Australian audiences is the Charlie Fellowes-trained Prince of Arran, who finished third behind fellow raiders Cross Counter and Marmelo in last year’s Melbourne Cup. 

Raheen House, trained in Newmarket by William Haggas, is another Australian Bloodstock acquisition seeking cups glory, whilst northern hemisphere three-year-olds Constantinople and Cape Of Good Hope – formerly owned by Coolmore and saddled by renowned horseman Aidan O’Brien – have both purchased one-way tickets. 

The duo will join Victoria’s leading stable, the Lindsay Park team of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig, with Constantinople set to run in this year’s Caulfield Cup after he was supplemented for the world’s richest turf handicap over 2400m, run at Caulfield on Saturday, 19 October.

Torcedor, another Australian Bloodstock purchase who has previous form around Europe’s pre-eminent stayer Stradivarius, is also on a one-way ticket to join Paul Preusker’s Horsham stable in country Victoria.

The first shipment is completed by the OTI Racing pair Haky (trained by John Hammond) and True Self (Willie Mullins), the Australian Bloodstock-owned Chief Ironside (Menuisier) and one-way traveller Aktau, who will join the stable of Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Mike Moroney.  

Upon arrival on AFL Grand Final Day, the 18 Europeans will bring the number of horses in quarantine at Werribee to 21 with three Japanese-trained Spring Racing Carnival nominees – Suzuka Devious (Mitsura Hashida), Meiner Fanrong (Takahisa Tezuka) and Meiner Wunsch (Takahiro Mizuno) – due to arrive in Melbourne on Tuesday, 24 September.

That number will grow to 24 when three high-class Japanese performers, Caulfield Cup contender Mer De Glace (Hisashi Shimizu) and Cox Plate invitees Lys Gracieux (Yoshito Yahagi) and Kluger (Tomokazu Takano), arrive on Tuesday, 1 October; whilst the second wave of European arrivals – who will primarily target the Melbourne Cup – are scheduled to land in Melbourne on Saturday, 12 October.

A total of 16 of the 24 horses will complete their post-export quarantine period on 12 October, allowing them to compete from that afternoon at Caulfield in races including the $1 million Group 1 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) and the $400,000 Group 2 Ladbrokes Herbert Power Stakes (2400m).

Those that will not be permitted to compete on that day are European Caulfield Cup contenders Red Verdon, Raymond Tusk, Raheen House, Gold Mount and Mustajeer, along with the Japanese trio of Mer De Glace, Lys Gracieux and Kluger, who will all be free to compete in races from Tuesday, 15 October onwards.  

Twelve Caulfield Cup nominees have not entered pre-export quarantine in Europe overnight and, as a result, will be unable to complete post-arrival quarantine at the Werribee International Horse Centre in time to compete in the race on 19 October.

The following horses are therefore not expected to be among the first acceptors for the Caulfield Cup when they are taken on 24 September: Southern France, Magic Wand, Morando, Technician, Mohawk, Norway, Western Australia, Barsanti, Pivoine, Mountain Hunter, Eminence and South Pacific.

The full list of horses (and their trainers) on the first European shipment in order of international ratings is as follows:

Danceteria

David Menuisier

Mirage Dancer*

Trent Busuttin

Royal Meeting

Saeed bin Suroor

Mustajeer*

Kris Lees

Dream Castle

Saeed bin Suroor

Red Galileo

Saeed bin Suroor

Raymond Tusk

Richard Hannon

Gold Mount

Ian Williams

Red Verdon

Ed Dunlop

Raheen House

William Haggas

Constantinople*

Lindsay Park

Cape Of Good Hope*

Lindsay Park

Torcedor*

Paul Preusker

Haky

John Hammond

Prince of Arran

Charlie Fellowes

True Self

Willie Mullins

Chief Ironside

David Menuisier

Aktau*

Mike Moroney

*denotes the horses joining Australian stables on a one-way ticket