The final shipment of international raiders has just departed for Melbourne, with 14 gallopers setting off on an odyssey to the other side of the world to tackle the best homegrown talent in some of the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival’s feature races.
Five horses trained by leading trainer Charlie Appleby, including the defending Lexus Melbourne Cup champion Cross Counter, will touch down on the tarmac at Melbourne airport at 4pm local tomorrow (Saturday, 12 October), with the remaining nine scheduled to land approximately five hours later.
Charlie Appleby & Cross Counter after their success in 2018
Please credit image to Racing Photos
The later arrivals include Hughie Morrison’s star stayer Marmelo, who finished runner-up behind Cross Counter in last year’s Melbourne Cup, and Joseph O’Brien’s Ascot Gold Cup place-getter Master Of Reality, who will be ridden in ‘the race that stops a nation’ by world-renowned jockey Frankie Dettori.
Upon arrival, the 14 raiders will spend two weeks completing their mandatory fortnight post-arrival quarantine at the TAB International Horse Centre, before being released to chase the Spring Racing Carnival’s riches from Ladbrokes Cox Plate Day (26 October).
The new arrivals include Royal Ascot winner Magic Wand and Cox Plate hopeful Hunting Horn, two of Aidan O’Brien’s travelling trio. The third member is northern hemisphere three-year-old Il Paradiso, who is aiming to land a first Melbourne Cup for arguably the world’s pre-eminent trainer.
Last year’s Mackinnon Stakes runner-up Latrobe, trained by Joseph O’Brien and owned by Australian Racing Hall of Famer Lloyd Williams, could also line up in Australasia’s weight-for-age championship at Moonee Valley on Saturday, 26 October.
Latrobe was joined on the flight by two stablemates with Melbourne Cup aspirations: Twilight Payment, who was also recently acquired by Williams; and Downdraft, owned by the Australian OTI Racing syndicate.
As well as Cross Counter, who delivered a first Melbourne Cup win for Godolphin in 2018, Appleby is also sending high-class stayer Ispolini, a two-time Group winner. Appleby’s quintet of travellers is completed by D’bai, Walton Street and Setting Sail, who will target a variety of races across the Spring Racing Carnival.
The final passenger bound for Melbourne, Southern France, will be prepared by the stable of Ciaron Maher and his English training partner David Eustace throughout his spring campaign in Victoria.
The final flight takes the tally of internationals which have descended on Melbourne to 38, with Japanese stayer Suzuka Devious having started the annual assault on 24 September.
All horses (in order of international ratings) that have boarded the two flights bound for Melbourne are listed below:
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Cross Counter (118)
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Master Of Reality (118)
Il Paradiso (115)
Hunting Horn (115)
Magic Wand (114)
Southern France (113)
Ciaron Maher and David Eustace
Twilight Payment (113)
Walton Street (107)
Setting Sail (106)
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