By Jon Lees
GB: Prince Of Arran’s bid to run in a third Melbourne Cup has cleared a significant hurdle with trainer Charlie Fellowes securing an exemption for a member of his team to travel to Australia to look after last year’s runner-up.
On Thursday, Racing Victoria revealed a list of 174 horses for ‘the race that stops the nation’ at Flemington on November 3, among them 30 horses from overseas.
However, obstacles remain for potential overseas visitors, which is why Fellowes is relieved to have received permission to send stable apprentice Aled Beech to supervise Prince Of Arran, who will take on Enable in the September Stakes at Kempton before travelling to Australia.
With coronavirus still present in Victoria, Fellowes may not be able to attend the Melbourne Cup in person but has complete faith in Beech, who has ridden 22 winners.
He said: “Tash Eaton, who has travelled with Prince Of Arran previously, is pregnant and can’t go but Aled went out to Dubai with the horse and I know he will do a brilliant job.
“He is going to fly out ahead of Prince Of Arran to do a two-week quarantine in a hotel in Sydney. He will be transferred from Sydney to Melbourne, where he will meet Prince Of Arran at Werribee on arrival.”
Prince Of Arran has earned a big following in Australia where he has been placed in the last two Melbourne Cups, coming third behind Cross Counter before last year finishing second to Vow And Declare.
On each visit, he landed a G3 contest before running in the Cup, taking the Lexus Stakes in 2018 and the Geelong Cup in 2019.
“There are still more hurdles to clear,” said Fellowes. “We are slightly in the Australian government’s hands, but at the moment Racing Victoria and Paul Bloodworth have done an unbelievable job in securing exemptions for stable staff and work permits, so it looks like we are all systems go.”
Fellowes admitted it had looked odds against Prince Of Arran’s being able to make his annual trip. “There have been moments when Melbourne went into lockdown that everything was thrown into doubt and until Prince Of Arran is on that flight I am taking nothing for granted,” he said.
“But they have got to do what’s right for Melbourne and Australia. If we are able to go down fantastic; if we are not there is a bigger issue going on that’s bigger than racing and the Melbourne Cup. It would be very sad that we can’t take part but we completely understand if it’s deemed a risk to the local people.”
Fellowes said he was unlikely to travel in the event of having to do two weeks’ quarantine on arrival. “Sitting in a hotel wouldn’t be a useful way to spend my time,” he said.
Prince Of Arran will follow a similar route to Flemington as last year by contesting the September Stakes at Kempton on September 5. He finished third in the race in 2019 but this time is set to meet Enable. Then in Australia he will have a prep run in either the G1 Caulfield Cup or back in the Geelong Cup.
“The plan is to take on Enable at Kempton,” Fellowes said. “Prince Of Arran worked yesterday on the Limekilns, literally ten minutes before Enable did.
“He’s in good form but a bit like for Enable, the September Stakes will be a prep run,” he went on. “Neither of us are going there with that as our Derby. He will be going there to get a bit more racing into his legs and to bring him on fitness-wise. I hope he’ll run a nice race. He loves Kempton and it will be fun to take on Enable.
“Hopefully we can run respectably. If by some freak result we end up beating her, I hope the Melbourne Cup handicapper will take it with a large pinch of salt!”
Australian runners dominate the top of the Melbourne Cup betting with South Australian Derby winner Russian Camelot sharing 8-1 favouritism with Surprise Baby, last year’s fifth, with Ladbrokes.
Melbourne Cup betting
Ladbrokes: 8 Russian Camelot, Surprise Baby, 12 Master Of Love, 16 Shared Ambition, 20 Vow And Declare, King Of Leogrance, Verry Eleegant, Dashing Willoughby, 25 bar