By Jon Lees
Ireland: Aidan O’Brien, who made no entries for this year’s Melbourne Spring Carnival, is to target Sydney instead, with Classic winner Mother Earth in line for a crack at the Everest Carnival, where the A$7.5m (£4m) Golden Eagle is the primary target.
The Ballydoyle trainer decided to give the Melbourne Cup a miss after Racing Victoria introduced new requirements to run, including stringent pre-travel veterinary checks, in the wake of the death of the O’Brien-trained 2019 Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck last year.
O’Brien, who has been a regular supporter of Melbourne’s spring carnival since his first Cup runner in 2006, has now revealed he will be preparing a team for the Everest Carnival in Sydney.
The Sydney event rivals the Melbourne version, running parallel from September 18 to November 6 in New South Wales, where Victoria’s strict criteria do not apply.
The trainer discussed the issues while speaking at an event to promote Longines Irish Champions Weekend. ”It is difficult because I think when you go down there you can only run once – I stand to be corrected on that – and it’s a long way to go to have that restriction,” he said. “That’s in Victoria, it’s not in Sydney.
“We are planning on sending horses to Sydney after the Irish Champions Weekend,” he went on. “In Melbourne it’s just the rules that they brought in, and they are 100% entitled to do it, but it just makes it a little bit more difficult from this part of the world.”
However. O’Brien was by no means ruling out Melbourne in the future. “It just didn’t suit us this year but that doesn’t mean it won’t suit us next year,” he explained.
“It’s not straightforward anymore but we were second in two or three of the big races last year – there is a lot of prize-money and you’d love to be able to compete. We can compare horses from all over the world in all different distances and all different ages when you do get to do that but it just wasn’t meant to be this year.”
Qipco 1,000 Guineas winner Mother Earth, who added to her G1 laurels last month in Deauville’s Prix Rothschild, is set to have her next start in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday week [September 11], when St Mark’s Basilica will contest the G1 Irish Champion Stakes, after which she could head to Australia.
The Golden Eagle is a 1,500-metre (7½f) event at Rosehill on Saturday October 30. With a prize fund of A$7.5m, it is Sydney’s second-richest race after the A$15m Everest, which takes place on October 16 at Randwick. This year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup on November 2 carries prize-money of A$8m (about £4.3m).
“There is a chance that Mother Earth will go to Sydney,” said O’Brien. “There is a fillies’ race [The Invitation] worth A$2 million a week before [October 23]. There is a chance that after the Matron she will go into quarantine and go to run in that and then hopefully run after that [in the Golden Eagle].”