Racing: Few pickings likely for New Zealanders

By Mike Dillon

At this stage, Red Ruler is the best New Zealand nominee for the Melbourne Cup. Photo / Christine Cornege
At this stage, Red Ruler is the best New Zealand nominee for the Melbourne Cup. Photo / Christine Cornege

There was a period between 1998 and 2001 when New Zealand started to make the Melbourne Cup a race for itself.

We won it three out of those four years with Jezabeel (1998), Brew in 2000 and Ethereal in 2001.

Former NZ Derby winner Xcellent, who finished third in Makybe Diva's third stunning victory in 2005, is the only New Zealander who has even gone close since.

And it won't be any easier this year.

New Zealand has 12 nominees for the A$6 million 150th running of the Cup. The best at this stage look to be Red Ruler, trained by John Sargent; Harris Tweed and Booming.

As talented as that trio is, they will be facing some remarkably strong European form.

The all-powerful Godolphin stable is hurting from having had three second placings in the Cup with Give The Slip, Central Park and Crime Scene.

Its nine nominations this time include last year's English St Leger and Italian Derby winner Mastery, last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomph placegetter Cavalryman and European group one winner Capanologist.

Between the Japanese runners and the incredible depth of the European nominations, horses from this part of the world are going to have to be right on their game.

The Australians include the Bart Cummings-trained trio of Cox Plate winner So You Think, and his Oaks and Derby winners of the old season Faint Perfume and Dariana. Former Matamata stayer Monaco Consul, who probably qualifies as an Australian this time around, is there, too.

Trainer Mike Moroney, who prepared Brew to win the big race, reports that he is delighted with the way his Victoria Derby winner of last spring has wintered in Queensland.

Sterling Prince, Crocodile Canyon, Snake Gully, Holloway, Nazabeel, Jungle Rocket, Keep The Peace, Miss Keepsake and Sculptor are also nominated from New Zealand, but a few of those are going to have to make massive progress to even look like making the Cup field.

South Australian Alcopop, who tried for a fairytale win in the Melbourne Cup last year, is again nominated for the Cups and the Cox Plate.

The Caulfield Cup has attracted 235 nominations, including 36 internationals, double last year's total, and the Cox Plate entry of 186 is 10 fewer than last year and includes 10 overseas raiders.

- NZ Herald

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