The Racing Horse should be celebrating another fantastic Melbourne Cup this morning but unfortunately we cannot - in fact we feel quite flat for a number of reasons. We have been watching the race since 1968 and this is the first time we have been underwhelmed. Obviously a certain virus and empty stands has left a mark but there is something else that is bothering us.
In the lead up to race we told the whole world and particularly our friends in Australia the race has been seriously compromised. We shouted from the rooftops: "the O'Brien family will have the 1-2 in the race and this does not represent a desirable state of affairs - beware the shape of things to come." Our worst fears have been confirmed:
2020 MELBOURNE CUP – Cause For Concern!
Once again those living in Ballarat, Bankstown or Bundaberg saw the first three trained in the UK & Ireland with a New Zealand trained in fourth, so a miserable day for the home nation! This slippery slope is turning into a greasy hill as I have tried to explain the custodians of the race post 2017.
Another sad moment is I have been talking to the VRC about all things pertaining but despite repeated calls have not had a single reply, in the past they have been very courteous. I did receive a strange bcc email from Amanda Elliott presenting and extolling the virtues of Makybe Diva, whilst at the same time making sure her like will not be seen again!
Last year, after explaining my concerns she said: "The VRC is proud to host a race that is so desired by connections all around the world. It is our aim to present the best staying race in the world, WHETHER it be made up of local or international runners."
Our argument is not to stop good overseas horses running but to make sure the race keeps its identity, after all this is the famous Melbourne Cup (1861 to the present) - not the Lexus World Stayers (Group 1 Handicap) (3yo+) (Turf) 2m.
For example, four international horses had not raced in Australia prior to the race and this cannot be right, they must be made to qualify by running to a standard in Australia in the preceding months.
A cap of 6 international runners should be introduced, not as a punishment beating but to save, nurture and protect something so special. Furthermore, owners should be allowed a maximum of 2 runners in the race which conversely, opens the race up to more individuals.
I have spent some time in the lead up to the Melbourne Cup talking to punters in Australia and not one has advocated the route taken. The surprise is there has not been a backlash from the rank and file, we have heard little from the Australian trainers, they must be pissed off!
After the recent results grumblings will turn to fester but it is not too late to get things back on course. Imagine next year a Gai Waterhouse colt wins in a three-way photo, the year after Nick Olive finds another good mare and she blitzes the field in the final furlong. Lloyd Williams then declares he is giving up owning horses in protest to the new criteria which only allows two horses per owner in a race. Then the 2023 shows one of his cast offs win at 66/1 but for a racing syndicate operating out of Scone.
All the Melbourne Cup woes will be forgotten and the race given back to its rightful owners! Could it happen?
Finally, our thoughts are with the beautiful Anthony Van Dyck and those who looked after him, a sickening sight leaving us with that horrible feeling of helplessness, so sorry...