Where in the world would you get a better race

ONCE it was a nation that stopped for the Melbourne Cup, now it is the world.

The evolution of our signature race is such that it now commands the best horses, trainers and jockeys from around the globe. Aidan O'Brien and Luca Cumani, two of the world's most renowned trainers, have been lured for the first time; Kieren Fallon, Frankie Dettori and Olivier Doleuze, in the penthouse suite of jockeys, are here. So, too, is Yeats, regarded as the best stayer in Europe.

Katsuhiko Sumii, one of the premier trainers in Japan, has two Cup runners.

In previous years we've had Dermot Weld, the genius from Ireland, and horses from France, Germany, Singapore, South Africa as well as the might of Godolphin, representing the United Arab Emirates.

There is no other international race that is so alluring; no other that has so many variables, so much intrigue.

Meetings like the Breeders' Cup, Hong Kong's International Day, the Royal Ascot carnival and Dubai's World Cup are set weights or weight-for-age races. Many of those races are limited to just a few chances, not so the Melbourne Cup.

Legitimate cases can be made for a dozen horses in the Cup. It is the same every year.

The handicap conditions of the Melbourne Cup are what makes it such a demanding, challenging and puzzling race.

If the Cup was run this year at weight-for-age, Yeats would start at prohibitive odds and, barring accidents, stroll home.

But assign Yeats 59kg, a weight no horse has carried to victory since 1969 when Rain Lover was successful, and it's a different story.

Sure, he still may win, but at least we have a contest and that really encapsulates the character of our great country. We love a contest, no matter what the sport.

Seemingly out of nowhere emerges exciting three-year-old Efficient, whose breath-taking Victoria Derby victory catapulted him into the Melbourne Cup melting pot.

Where else in the world would you get such a scenario?

Where else would you get a Victoria Derby winner, a Caulfield Cup winner (Tawqeet), Coronation Cup winner (Yeats), a Japanese St Leger winner (Delta Blues), a Wellington Cup winner (Zabeat) and a Geelong Cup winner (Mandela) in the same field?

Anyone who doesn't applaud the globalisation of the Melbourne Cup is an advocate of the flat earth society or still watches black and white TV.

Clearly, the overseas runners add much to the race. Take them out and what are we left with? Tawqeet, Efficient and some plodding Kiwis.

But for the Melbourne Cup, our racing would be more and more marginalised. Our horses are now representing us with pride in the best races in Hong Kong, Japan, England, Singapore and Dubai.

And that all began when we globalised the Melbourne Cup. It's a concept everyone in the industry should embrace.

As we have seen in the past 12 years since Vintage Crop won the Cup and awakened international interest in the race, there are no guarantees. We've had only one other overseas winner -- Media Puzzle.

Not only does bringing a horse here from the northern hemisphere come at a great cost, so many things need to go their way. Playing in the black shorts can't be understated.

I'd love nothing more if my mare Demerger won. Certainly the 3200m, and the addition of blinkers, will help her.

But I believe Tawqeet, coming off back-to-back wins in the Metropolitan and Caulfield Cup, and Yeats, the Irish champ, can fight out the finish.

Whoever wins, it will be a great race and a great advertisement for Australian racing.

by Danny O'Brien

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