International owners and trainers don’t have to win the Melbourne Cup to make big money, thanks to Australia’s addiction to European bloodstock, with millions of dollars to be made without even making the trip to Melbourne.
With a purse of $$6.2million, the Melbourne Cup is already recognised as the world’s most lucrative staying race, and is now a cash cow for European trainers and owners keen to offload their horses in a market desperate for quality stayers, and Australians are only too happy to pay top dollar for a ticket in the Cup raffle.
Racing Victoria’s international recruitment officer, Leigh Jordon, continues to be amazed by the sheer volume of European stayers purchased by Australians each year in the hope of gaining a start in the Cup.
”The numbers of horses being bought and the prices being put on them is quite amazing and the prices only increase as we get nearer to the race,” he said.
”I have no doubt that some of the horses nominated for the race this year are only there to be sold to Australian owners – it’s definitely a big factor.”
With just about every local bloodstock agent chasing a European ”cups horse” for clients, European owners lucky enough to have a horse qualified or with the potential to qualify for the Melbourne Cup are selling their way to massive financial gain, often seven-figure sums, such is the craze to secure horses in time.
Fiorente, the 2012 Melbourne Cup runner-up, is typical of the money that can be made for European owners. On the market in May last year for a reported $$US500,000, he was subsequently purchased for more than $$1million by clients of Gai Waterhouse in September.
With the race itself having reached its peak as far as international exposure is concerned, Jordon said his challenge now was to recruit major owners and trainers that have been reluctant to participate in the race, citing the likelihood of European racing and breeding heavyweight the Aga Khan’s first Australian runner, French mare Varema, as a highlight of his career.
”It’s not about getting numbers now, it’s about convincing those that have not yet come that this is a race that they should be involved in,” he said.
”Convincing the Niarchos family to come, and getting a Cup win for Godolphin, are my high priorities.”
Among the final list of 135 entries for this year’s Cup are 28 overseas-trained horses.
Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien has nominated three horses, including star three-year-old Leading Light, as has regular visitor Godolphin, while 2011 Cup winner Dunaden also holds an entry.
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