Gold Mount
Copyright Steven Cargill

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

The 18 gallopers will spend the next fortnight in quarantine at Side Hill Stud, before boarding a plane which is scheduled to touch down in Melbourne on Saturday, 28th 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 AU$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 Melbourne stables of the Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young partnership.

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 after connections accepted an international invitation from the Moonee Valley Racing Club to compete in Australasia’s weight-for-age championship on Saturday, 26th October.

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

The three-year-old colt is one of three raiders from the Godolphin stable run by the 2018 Stella Artois Caulfield Cup-winning trainer Saeed bin Suroor, with Ebor Handicap runner-up Red Galileo andCox Platecontender Dream Castle having also entered quarantine.

The horse Red Galileo chased home in the York showpiece, Mustajeer, is also set to arrive in Melbourne later this month to join the stable of local trainer Kris Lees.

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.

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 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, 19th 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, 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, 24th 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, 12th October.

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

Horses not permitted to compete 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, 15th October onwards. 

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

Danceteria

Mirage Dancer*

Royal Meeting

Mustajeer*

Dream Castle

Red Galileo

Raymond Tusk

Gold Mount

Red Verdon

Raheen House

Constantinople*

Cape Of Good Hope*

Torcedor*

Haky

Prince of Arran

True Self

Chief Ironside

Aktau*