THE alarm bells should be ringing for Australian racing after Europe dominated the Melbourne Cup.
At least that’s the view of prominent UK racing journalist Matt Chapman, who says Tuesday’s Cup result underlined just how weak Australian stayers are — and highlighted the need for change.
Godolphin’s rising star Cross Counter won Australia’s greatest staying race (3200m) on Tuesday from fellow raiders Marmelo (second) and A Prince of Arran (third), handing the Europeans a trifecta in the Group 1 feature.
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In a field dominated by international runners, Youngstar was the best-placed of the Australian-bred horses, the Chris Waller-trained stayer finishing sixth.
Runaway (19th) and Ace High (20th) were the other locally-bred runners to whack away, while Zacada (13th) and Who Shot Thebarman (17th) were bred in New Zealand.
Chapman, speaking from the UK, says Godolphin’s breakthrough success may signal the end for Australian winners.
“What it has done is open the floodgates for Europe winning this just about every single year,” he said.
“Quite simply we all knew a European horse would win this race. But we just couldn’t pinpoint which one.
“It’s a real problem for you lot because, bar Winx — and even the horses Winx is beating … this Melbourne Cup has just confirmed everything.
“It’s a terribly, terribly weak division, this staying division. And if you didn’t have Winx, I mean, crikey, just think how you’d be crying!”
Speaking on RSN, Chapman said European trainers had worked out the formula for success in Australia.
“I think the mentality has changed,” he said.
“When all this started off people thought they wanted an Ascot Gold Cup horse, and it quickly became clear that that was the worst type of horse to have because a) you just get thumped with top weight because the handicappers just say ‘oh the Ascot Gold Cup winner will be the best staying horse in Europe’ … and the second thing is you’re too slow.
“Because if you’re winning over two-and-a-half miles at Ascot in a race that will be run with a true gallop, you’re not going to be fast enough for a Melbourne Cup.
“I think what most of our team have realised now is what you want is a really quite classy mile-and-a-half, improving horse who have probably just about already stayed a mile and six (furlongs).
“Then if you come against the Australians and New Zealanders, the problem is none of you lot stay.
“Most of those European horses that ran (in the Cup) were not proven at two miles and yet they were still too strong for everyone else which tells you it’s not just the staying division that’s so weak — it’s the mile-and-a-half and basically the mile-and-a-quarter division.
“For Australian racing this is a real problem and owners-breeders have got to come together and start saying staying is as sexy as sprinting.”
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