Our Cup runneth overseas
Once upon a time, it would have been a huge story for the Melbourne Cup to go to an overseas trainer. Today, after French horse Dunaden nosed out English horse Red Cadeaux in a thrilling finish, exactly the opposite is true.
How ironic - in a week when an Australian icon in Qantas has bulldozed a path towards an ostensibly less Australian future - that another Australia icon, the Melbourne Cup, is now as distant from its origins as Qantas is from a dinky-di outback air service.
Dunaden prevailed in the narrowest of narrow finishes and as ever, provided a great story. The horse’s jockey, Christophe Lemaire, flew out just yesterday after local jock Craig Williams had an appeal against a suspension dismissed. In a further irony, his arrival was delayed by the Qantas shutdown.
But arrive he did. And if you think Lemaire landed in Australia in the bare nick of time, wait’ll you see the official print of the winning margin. The technical term for his winning margin isn’t “a short half nostril hair”, but it bloody well should be.
This is as close as you’ll ever get to a dead heat, without actually being one. In 2008, Viewed beat Bauer by the shortest margin possible, a short half head, but he won the race by the length of the straight compared to today’s finish.
With three Cups in the last six years going to overseas-trained horses, and the first eight runners this year hailing from foreign shores, this is no longer Australia’s race.
While that might niggle those who sleep on pillowcases embroidered with Southern Cross motifs, it’s pretty much just the way of this highly globalised world these days.
And let’s not forget that we now send our fast horses overseas too, especially our sprinters like the mighty Black Caviar, who goes around in the Salinger Stakes at Flemington this coming Saturday.
It’s a big wide world out there. Horses come, horses go but the Melbourne Cup will go on, I would argue bigger and better than ever, even if we don’t win too many of them ourselves anymore.
If there’s one really big winner in all of this, and we can hardly wait for the Member for Corio Richard Marles to tell us, it is the city of Geelong - which with its awesome AFL team and its increasingly important horse race is sending out a cheeky to challenge to Melbourne for the title of Australia’s sporting capital.
Geelong’s Cup was once a second string race on the annual turf calendar. Then in 2002, the Irish Invader Media Puzzle won it. Then he won the Melbourne Cup, as anyone’s who seen the current movie The Cup could attest.
Then in 2008, English import Bauer won the Geelong Cup en route to that desperately unlucky second place in the Melbourne Cup.
Last year Americain won the Geelong Cup and we all know what he did next.
Then this year, today’s Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden scored an incredibly impressive win in the Geelong Cup.
Interestingly, Dunaden beat a horse called Tanby in this year’s Geelong Cup. Tanby was in great form and would have been the most highly fancied of the local horses in this year’s Melbourne Cup. Alas, he couldn’t even get a run due to all the overseas horses.
That’s just how it is now.
How did you go? The Punch had $5 on Red Cadeaux at 50-1 and we’re spitting chips. We almost got the $5,000 trifecta by ANOTHER BLOODY NOSTRIL when AMERICAIN MISSED THIRD BY HALF A WHISKER. Share your happy or sad tales below. We’re off to the bar.
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