Australian sprinters may have set alight the British Turf season but the European challenge for Australia's premier middle-distance and staying prizes mustered in Newmarket yesterday to go into quarantine.
The exploits of Black Caviar and Ortensia in Britain have been well documented but after Europe's success in the Melbourne Cup for the past two seasons there has been an increased appetite to compete Down Under.
Sixteen horses entered quarantine yesterday to be ready for targets such as the Cox Plate, Australia's premier weight-for-age championship, and the Caulfield Cup, which is the world's most valuable handicap over 12 furlongs.
Another batch of horses will enter quarantine in two weeks' time after the Melbourne Cup weights have been published on Tuesday.
The number is a significant increase on last season, when there were 10 horses shipped over at this stage but this season's number is bumped up by several horses that have been purchased by Australian connections and therefore have a one-way ticket.
Last year European-trained horses filled six of the first seven places in the Melbourne Cup, won by Sheikh Fahad Al Thani's Dunaden. The previous season the French-trained Americain prevailed.
Of the 23 horses that went to post in the 2011 Melbourne Cup, only six had been trained throughout their careers in Australia.
International Racehorse Transport, who have offices in Newmarket and in New Zealand, imported all 17 of those challengers and the company's managing director was not surprised at the demand for places.
"Australians are keen to buy English middle-distance horses because they have done so well in the past, not just in the Melbourne Cup, but also in other races," Jim Paltridge said. "Australians have increased the number of horses they have bought in training over here and as the Americans have not been as prolific in the market a gap has appeared for them to fill."
Others horses entered in the Cox Plate to have also competed in Europe include Glass Harmonium, Julienas, Glencadam Gold and Seville.
"The success of British horses Down Under has definitely raised the profile of our horses in Australia," Paltridge said.
Luca Cumani has four horses entered in Australia with Afsare bidding to become the first horse trained in Europe to run in the Cox Plate for eight years.
Afsare could be joined by Americain, trained in France by Alain de Royer-Dupre, who could also saddle Shahwardi in the extended 10-furlong feature, run at Moonee Valley on October 27. The European trio are among a list of 68 horses in line to take part the A$3 million (Dh11.5m) feature.
Cumani also has Quest For Peace, Ibicenco and Mount Athos engaged in the Caulfield Cup, on October 20. The Italian's trio are among nine European entries, which is one more than last season.
In other news, Godolphin face a fact-finding mission tomorrow as top-class fillies Gamilati and Kailani are given the opportunities to restore their battered reputations at Doncaster.
Gamilati easily took the UAE 1000 Guineas at Meydan Racecourse in February before she made her seasonal appearance in Europe last month at Glorious Goodwood.
There she could only finish eighth in the Group 3 Oak Tree Stakes but Simon Crisford did not believe the idiosyncratic track, nor the layoff was a reason for her flaccid performance.
“She has a fair bit to prove and was very disappointing last time out,” Godolphin’s racing manager told The National. “Goodwood was not a problem for her and she did not lack for preparation after being off so long so we just don’t know.
“I would say the jury is out and although she is going well at home we’ll just have to see how she gets on before making any plans.”
Gamilati runs in the Group 3 Japan Racing Association Sceptre Stakes over seven furlongs tomorrow.
Kailani had a tall reputation going into the English Oaks in June. She was only seventh to Aidan O’Brien’s Was and filled the same position at Royal Ascot in the Ribblesdale Stakes. “Kailani is another with a bit to prove,” Crisford said.
Kailani steps up in distance for the Group 2 DFS Park Hill Stakes over an extended mile and six furlongs.
Sole Power got back on course today with a superb effort in the Listed Scarborough Stakes. The Irish raider was second to Ortensia in the Al Quoz Sprint in March, and failed to handle the going behind Ortensia at York last month.
“He came back from York lit up and had to race,” his trainer Edward Lynam said. “He’ll go to Paris for the L’Abbaye next, then Hong Kong and Dubai next year.”
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