Cross Counter wins from Marmelo

Second wave of Europeans target carnival glory after entering quarantine

The line-up of international horses targeting Spring Racing Carnival glory in Victoria is now complete after 16 overseas contenders entered quarantine in the United Kingdom and Ireland overnight.

The 16 gallopers will spend the next fortnight in pre-export quarantine facilities in Newmarket (UK) and County Tipperary (Ireland), before boarding a flight from London which is scheduled to arrive in Melbourne on Saturday, 12 October.   

The famous O’Brien racing family – father Aidan and son Joseph – are both well represented with 10 passengers between them, whilst frequent Spring Racing Carnival visitor Charlie Appleby is sending four gallopers to Victoria including last year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) hero, Cross Counter.

Cross Counter delivered a first triumph in the ‘race that stops a nation’ for Godolphin and, despite being asked to carry 6.5kg more in this year’s renewal, Appleby has accepted the challenge of trying to emulate the feats of the mighty mare Makybe Diva, the last horse to win consecutive Melbourne Cups.

With Hughie Morrison’s grand stayer Marmelo set to check in alongside Cross Counter and Prince of Arran (Charlie Fellowes) – who touches down at Melbourne airport at 8.30pm tonight (Friday, 27 September) – also returning, the top three from the 2018 Melbourne Cup will be reunited at Flemington on Tuesday, 5 November.

Other Europeans on a Melbourne Cup path include Ascot Gold Cup placegetter Master Of Reality, who is owned by Lloyd Williams and trained by Joseph O’Brien – the partnership which tasted success with Rekindling in 2017.

The same combination is also responsible for Twilight Payment and his stablemate Latrobe, who competed in last year’s Spring Racing Carnival and came within a neck of winning the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) on the last day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington. The pair clashed in the Curragh Cup in June, when Twilight Payment – then trained by Irishman Jim Bolger – defeated Latrobe to claim his first Group 2 success.     

Perhaps the pick of Aidan O’Brien’s six-strong team is Group 2 winner Magic Wand, who has a Royal Ascot victory on her resumé and, at her last start, finished second behind stablemate Magical in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes.

Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) contender Magic Wand will be joined in O’Brien’s private quarantine facility by stable companions Il ParadisoHunting HornNorway and Mohawk.

Multiple Group 1-winning sprinter Ten Sovereigns, who has been nominated for both the $1 million Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m) at The Valley and the $2 million Darley Sprint Classic (1200m) at Flemington, will fly to Sydney – where he is scheduled to compete in the Everest – before travelling south to join his stablemates at Werribee once they have completed their post-arrival quarantine period.

The jetsetters bound for Melbourne are completed by talented stayer Downdraft, who is owned by Australian syndicate OTI Racing and trained by Joseph O’Brien; Southern France, who will be transferred to the stables of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace; plus a trio of gallopers from the Appleby stable: IspoliniD’bai and either Walton Street or Setting Sail.

Ispolini, who has won four times and never finished outside the top four in 11 career starts, is being set for the Melbourne Cup after his narrow win the Group 3 German St Leger on Sunday, 15 September.

Even though there is only one guaranteed spot left on the plane, Appleby has also placed both Setting Sail and Walton Street into quarantine in the event that connections of one of the other quarantined horses opts not to send them to Melbourne.

Once the 16 horses have completed their mandatory two-week post-arrival quarantine period at Racing Victoria’s Werribee International Horse Centre, they will be free to chase the riches on offer across the Spring Racing Carnival – starting with the $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate at The Valley on Saturday, 26 October.         

The final flight takes the tally of internationals descending on Melbourne to 38, with Japanese stayer Suzuka Devious having started the annual assault on Tuesday.

Tonight, Prince of Arran and three high-class horses from Saeed bin Suroor’s stable will arrive, before 14 passengers on the first European shipment are unloaded onto the tarmac at Tullamarine airport on Grand Final Day tomorrow (28 September).

Next Tuesday (October 1), Mer de GlaceLys Gracieux and Kluger will touch down from Japan, before the second wave of Europeans sees the ‘fully booked’ signs go up outside Werribee.

The full list of horses (in order of international ratings) that have entered quarantine overnight and are booked on the second European shipment is as follows:

Ten Sovereigns (121)

Aidan O’Brien

Cross Counter (118)

Charlie Appleby

Master Of Reality (118)

Joseph O’Brien

Ispolini (115)

Charlie Appleby

Il Paradiso (115)

Aidan O’Brien

Hunting Horn (115)

Aidan O’Brien

Marmelo (114)

Hughie Morrison

Magic Wand (114)

Aidan O’Brien

Southern France (113)

Ciaron Maher and David Eustace

Twilight Payment (113)

Joseph O’Brien

Norway (113)

Aidan O’Brien

Latrobe (112)

Joseph O’Brien

Mohawk (112)

Aidan O’Brien

D’bai (111)

Charlie Appleby

Downdraft (110)

Joseph O’Brien

Walton Street* (107)

Charlie Appleby

Setting Sail* (106)

Charlie Appleby

*only one will travel, unless another horse listed does not board the plane