After months’ of uncertainty because of COVID-19, a star-studded contingent of British and Irish spring carnival contenders is set to arrive at Werribee on Friday night.
Headed by Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, Irish Derby conqueror Santiago and 2019 Victoria carnival winners Magic Wand, Prince Of Arran and True Self, the 29-horse shipment is due at Melbourne Airport about 10pm Friday.
Aidan O’Brien and his Melbourne Cup-winning son Joseph will be strongly represented at this year’s carnival with the likes of Buckhurst, Twilight Payment, Master Of Reality, Tiger Moth and Armoury.
Fellow Irish trainer Willie Mullins is sending Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner True Self and Stratum.
With several of the shipment headed for Australian stables on “one-way tickets”, the horses will be stabled in three separate barns at Werribee.
The group will quarantine for the mandatory two-week term after being reunited with stable staff sent from Europe to handle the gallopers.
The staff, comprised of track riders and stable foremen, have spent the past two weeks completing quarantine in Sydney.
Racing Victoria’s general manager of international and racing operations Paul Bloodworth said the flight would travel from London Heathrow to Ireland before heading down to Melbourne.
The horses will be eligible to compete in Australia from October 17 – Caulfield Cup day.
International horses have dominated recent carnivals, claiming victory in Victoria’s three spring majors.
Apart from Vow And Declare in last year’s Melbourne Cup and Winx’s Cox Plate four-peat, the visitors have excelled.
Mer de Glace (Japan) and Best Solution (England) landed the past two Caulfield Cups, Adelaide (Ireland) and Lys Gracieux (Japan) sit either side of Winx’s Cox Plate dynasty.
Five of the past 10 Melbourne Cup winners have emerged from foreign stables – Cross Counter (England), Rekindling (Ireland), Protectionist (Germany) and French-trained pair Dunaden and Americain.