A flotilla of European horses entered quarantine on Friday ahead of Australia’s Spring Carnival and over a third of those horses will not be returning.
A record 27 horses from across Europe have now settled in to quarantine with Godolphin’s multiple Group One winners Best Solution and Benbatl and Northumberland Plate winner and Melbourbe Cup favourite Withhold heading the 22 horses that entered the pre-export facility in Newmarket.
A further five horses, including last year’s Derby runner-up Cliffs Of Moher, went in to quarantine at Aidan O’Brien’s private facility at Ballydoyle.
They will all spend the next fortnight in their temporary homes before boarding a flight to Melbourne, which is due to touch down on September 29.
Ten of the 27 European horses will remain in Australia once they have completed their mandatory two-week quarantine period on October 13, having been purchased by Australian owners or sent to local trainers by their current owners.
Dal Harraild and Pharrell will be trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, Langley by Darren Weir, Finche, Shraaoh and Casterton by Chris Waller, while Gustavus Vassa (Team Hayes), Marathon Man and Sound Check (both Mike Moroney) have also been alloated trainers. The connections of Danon Distance have yet to name a trainer.
"We're looking forward to welcoming some of the best horses from Europe to Melbourne for the Spring Racing Carnival,” said Paul Bloodworth, Racing Victoria’s general manager of racing and international operations.
“These horses generate great interest in Victorian racing both here and back in their homeland.
"It's very satisfying to again see horses from some of the world's leading stables targeting our carnival, as well as newcomers such as Charlie Fellowes who is hoping to share in the record prize money on offer in our major races.
"Going on his current international rating of 123, Benbatl will be the second highest-rated international horse to have competed in the Spring Racing Carnival, and 16 of the 27 boast an international rating of 110 or above so there's great quality as well as tremendous depth among this year's internationals."
Saeed bin Suroor's Benbatl, who has won at the top-level twice this season when scoring in the Dubai Turf and Grosser Dallmayr Preis - Bayerisches Zuchtrennen, is slated to take on the mighty Winx in the $5AUS million Ladbrokes Cox Plate staged over 10 furlongs on October 27.
Dual German Group One winner Best Solution was assigned the second-highest weight (57.5kg) for the $AUS5.15m Stella Artois Caulfield Cup over 12 furlongs and the $7.3m Lexus Melbourne Cup over two miles on the first Tuesday of November.
Trainer Charlie Appleby is sending highly progressive stayers Cross Counter and Hamada from his Moulton Paddocks stable in the hope of securing a first win for Godolphin in the Melbourne Cup. Cross Counter, who was edged out of the Great Voltigeur by St Leger candidate Old Persian, is 16-1 for the Melbourne Cup, while easy Geoffrey Freer winner Hamada is as big as 20-1.
They will be joined on the flight to Australia by their stablemates Emotionless, a leading contender for the Caulfield Cup, and Comicas, who will target sprint races during the Spring Racing Carnival.
Other noteworthy raiders that entered quarantine include Withhold, currently the 14-1 favourite with Betfair, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power for the Melbourne Cup; Count Octave, trained by frequent Spring Racing Carnival visitor Andrew Balding, who won the Group One Mackinnon Stakes with Side Glance in 2013; and his stablemate Duretto, whose last run produced a gutsy victory in the Listed Chester Stakes at the start of the month.
Red Verdon, whose trainer Ed Dunlop saddled Red Cadeaux to three runner-up finishes in the Melbourne Cup, will also be on the plane; as will Prince of Arran, the well-travelled galloper trained by Fellowes, who spent a year in Australia working for Hall of Fame trainer Lee Freedman.
Cliffs Of Moher will have company in the form of his stablemate Yucatan, who holds Caulfield and Melbourne Cup entries, plus fellow Ballydoyle residents Fleet Review, Spirit Of Valor and Intelligence Cross, who will all target sprint races across the Spring Racing Carnival.
Australia-bound horses in quarantine in England:
Benbatl (Saeed bin Suroor)
Best Solution (Saeed bin Suroor)
Prizemoney (Saeed bin Suroor)
Comicas (Charlie Appleby)
Cross Counter (Charlie Appleby)
Emotionless (Charlie Appleby)
Hamada (Charlie Appleby)
Count Octave (Andrew Balding)
Duretto (Andrew Balding)
Red Verdon (Ed Dunlop)
Prince Of Arran (Charlie Fellowes)
Withhold (Roger Charlton)
Dal Harrald (Ciaron Maher and David Eustace)
Pharrell (Ciaron Maher and David Eustace)
Langley (Darren Weir)
Casterton (Chris Waller)
Finche (Chris Waller)
Shraaoh (Chris Waller)
Gustavus Vassa (Team Hayes)
Marathon Man (Mike Moroney)
Sound Check (Mike Moroney)
Danon Distance (Trainer to be advised)
Horses in quarantine in Ireland:
Cliffs Of Moher (Aidan O'Brien)
Fleet Review (Aidan O'Brien)
Intelligence Cross (Aidan O'Brien)
Spirit of Valor (Aidan O'Brien)
Yucatan (Aidan O'Brien)
Horses that are scheduled to enter quarantine in Japan:
Chestnut Coat (Yoshito Yahagi)
Sole Impact (Hirofuma Toda)
Horses that are currently completing their post-arrival quarantine at the Werribee International Horse Centre:
Blair House (Charlie Appleby)
Folkswood (Charlie Appleby)
Jungle Cat (Charlie Appleby)