European Invaders Dominant

Last Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup was completely dominated by European horses.
The first seven placings were filled by European trained horses,with the winner Dunaden giving France their second win in the great race.
Dunaden, trained by Mikel Delzangles, prevailed in a thrilling finish, by the barest of margins over Red Cadeaux and Lucas Cranach.
It was several moments before Dunaden was declared the winner by just a nose.
Incredibly, the difference between winning and running second was $3m.
As Michael Rodd, the rider of Red Cadeaux said afterwards, “that hurts!”
For successful rider Christophe Lemaire the win capped off an incredible 24 hours.
Lemaire was flown to Melbourne from his base in Japan after Craig Williams was suspended.
“This is the first time I have ridden in Australia and to win this great race is a wonderful thrill” said Lemaire.
Dunaden’s connections decided to fly the French rider over after Williams lost a last minute appeal against a suspension.
It proved a wise decision as the brilliant French rider, considered by many to be one of the best in the world, rode a great race.
For the first time since Adam was a schoolboy, there was no New Zealand trained runner in the Melbourne Cup.
The ramifications of this could be far reaching.
In an attempt to internationalize the Melbourne Cup, the Victoria Racing Club, have really gone out of their way to attract the overseas visitors.
But at what cost to the local horses?
The fact that their were no NZ trained horses in this year’s Cup, highlights how difficult it is going to be to qualify for the race.
Simply, our NZ stake money cannot compete with the earnings the European horses have on offer.
And because one of the main qualifying criteria is stake monies earned, this puts the NZ horses at a decided disadvantage.
Maybe our horses simply aren’t good enough?  
However, I believe NZ racing hasn’t helped itself by some of the decisions made over the last few years.
NZ has always been known as a country that produces wonderful stayers.
However, the need to get a quick return, has seen a significant swing towards the “get up and run early ” type of thoroughbred.
Staying horses require time to physically develop and unfortunately most owners don’t have the time to wait.
Testing their patience too would be the dearth of suitable staying races.
The decision by the Wellington Racing Club a few years ago to drop the distance of their feature staying race from 3200m to 2400m was a case in point.
There was a lot of angst shown over that decision, admittedly a lot of it emotional, but I still believe it was relevant.
The telling point for me was the recent race distances from several of the European horses in this year’s Cup.
Most had raced over distances ranging from 2800m to 3400m.
Surely that experience would stand those horses in good stead for a race like the Melbourne Cup.   
I am not saying that this will be the “cure”, but if we are going to compete against the best stayers in the world, surely we have to give our horses every opportunity.
The huge prizemoney on offer in the Melbourne Cup is a great incentive.
Just ask Michael Rodd.
I’ll catch you next week.