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Melbourne Cup = Euro Cup 2011

  • November 2nd, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

eu-flagg-eu.jpg“The international take-over of the Melbourne Cup is complete after the first seven across the line yesterday were international horses”, said one commentator, echoing almost all.

flemington-start.jpegFrom a field of 24 in the fabled national racing event, always on the first Tuesday in November, eleven were horses from outside Australia – most from the European Union.

They put on a good show, providing an almost-unprecedented tight peloton, with barely a hair’s breadth separating first and second, and third and fourth — the ebullient crowd having to suffer quietly through minutes of waiting for the photo outcomes.

The French-trained winner, Dunaden, actually ranked second favourite by the punters, is already being prepared for the trip home, for Winter training.

The win was a huge windfall for the jockey, Christophe-Patrice Le Maire, who’d had been called in following the suspension of the designated Australian rider, Craig Williams, over the handling of his mount in a country event.

Much was at stake; he’d been hoping for a hat-trick of main prizes, after riding the winners of the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate.

C-P Le Maire said he sympathised with Mr Williams, and believed that his time would come.

In the meantime he did not hold back, urging on the cheering from well-wishers at the track, once the result came through.

“I thought I would be just a spectator”, he said.

Second in the 2011 Melbourne Cup was Red Cadeaux from Britain, and third was Lucas Cranach from Germany (the only one of the seven internationals at the head of the race, even prepared in Australia).

The favourite, last year’s winner, the French-trained Americain , well handicapped, was fourth.

flemington-crowd.jpegThe legendary trainer, Bart Cummings, whose two entrants included the German horse Illo, pointed out that the leaders were not known champions; he rated Americain as the “only decent horse in the race”, if matching them against great champions past.

Soul searching continues in the Australian racing community over the loss of local domination of the two-mile race, the first local horse this time being Niwot, at eighth place.

Past humiliations have seen great wins by stayers bred in New Zealand or the United States; now there are demands for more long-distance events, and more prize-money to cultivate performances in the category.

Most Australians, focused on the party-day aspect, did not appear too nationalistic about the actual background of the horse flesh; overseas connections of consistent runners might continue to eye-off, and prepare to get, the handy A$6-million that goes on stake when they race the Melbourne Cup.