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Melbourne Cup Result Raises Concerns For Australian Racing

There have been a number of commentators in Australia, particularly over the last few months who have expressed their concerns that the Melbourne Cup is inexorably becoming a race that home-grown horses can no longer win the "race that stops a nation" and these concerns were further backed up after only one Australian bred horse finished in the first ten places in the "race that stops a nation" at Flemington Park on Tuesday. Unlike previous years, this year's Melbourne Cup result was dominated by European runners who occupied the first seven places home with the winner being a French entry for the second year in succession.

This time the first horse home was the recent Geelong Cup winner, Dunaden, a 15/2 shot, trained by Mikel Delzangles and ridden by Christophe Lemaire. They came out on top in a terrific final furlong duel with the Ed Dunlop trained, Red Cadeaux, winning on the line by a nose. Lemaire only got the ride due to the suspension of local jockey, Craig Williams, who had ridden the five year old at Geelong and who had to watch from the sidelines.

In shading a thrilling finish which was decided by a photo, Dunaden reversed the form with Red Cadeaux from their encounter in the Group Two Prix Kergorlay over 1m7f at Deauville back in August, where he could only finish 9th behind Red Cadeaux who came fifth. That race was won by Mark Johnston’s Juke Box Jury, who also ran in the Melbourne Cup but could only finish down the field in 20th place. The Prix Kergorlay is becoming a very useful European trial for the Melbourne Cup, as this year four of its entries managed to get into Australia’s premier race, the other being the Luca Cumani trained, Manighar, who was fifth in at Flemington.

Red Cadeaux, who went off with odds of 30/1, was last seen finishing third behind Duncan in the Irish Field St Leger at the Curragh in September. With no warm up run at the Melbourne Carnival, there were many who believed he would be too rusty to win the race, however he put up a great fight and actually led in the final furlong until being touched off on the line.

Last year’s winner, Americain, was given a little too much work to do this year by jockey, Gerald Mosse. That said his incredibly fast finish was most impressive but it only managed to earn the 4/1 favourite, fourth place, 1½ lengths behind the Germany bred Lucas Cranach in third.

Best of the Australian entries was the Michael Wayne & John Hawkes trained, Niwot, recent winner of the Group 3 Lexus Cup at Flemington Park, but who could only manage eighth place much to the disappointment of the 100,000 plus Australian crowd!

There is no doubt that the emphatic European success in the Melbourne Cup this year will send shock waves throughout Australian racing. The authorities "Down Under" are under mounting pressure to introduce new regulations that give Australian horses a bigger bias and make it harder for European and other non-Australian/New Zealand horses to enter, the 2012 Melbourne Cup will be very interesting in light of this.

Certainly as it stands right now, the "race that stops a nation" is in danger of becoming the "race that stops a nation’s interest" and is a worry looking ahead to the future.

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