Quarantine Woes Force Melbourne Cup Raider No-Show

Two-time trainer of a Melbourne Cup runner-up, Luca Cumani concedes that if current quarantine issues aren’t resulted then European raiders, including a handful from his successful Newmarket stables, will be unable to feature in this spring’s Melbourne Cup Carnival.

Qualms over the suitability of a new quarantine establishment at North-London’s expansive Newmarket training centre in England could force the 2011 Melbourne Cup campaign of a number of key European stayers to be shelved.

After Australian Quarantine and Inspections Service (AQIS) officials failed to approve quarantine stations at Ballydoyle in Ireland and Newmarket earlier this year, a new facility also at Newmarket was selected as a replacement.

The facility, however, has been deemed as unacceptable and unusable by many key European trainers including regular visitor to Victoria’s Spring Carnival, Cumani.

“If they stick to the current facility then I’m afraid there will be no trip to Melbourne,” Cumani said.

“The new place can’t work, simple as that.

“You’d have to float horses there every morning and the venue isn’t suitable.

“The horses would be nervous wrecks.”

Cumani has twice come close to taking out the world’s richest handicap, Flemington’s iconic Melbourne Cup, with Purple Moon second to Efficient in 2007 and the great grey Bauer beaten out of a win by Viewed in 2008.

Original plans for a raid on this year’s $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) on Tuesday November 1 featured at least five of Cumani’s best stayers.

But the high-profile horseman has threatened to abandon all plans for a Melbourne Spring Carnival assault, blaming the ongoing and outdated quarantine issues and procedures.

“The tests for equine influenza and the like are 100 per cent accurate,” Cumani said.

“Quarantine for these animals is redundant.”

Prominent racehorse owner Terry Henderson shares Cumani’s view.

Henderson is currently searching for potential Cups winning horses in France and was vocal over his non-approval of the redundant quarantine requirements imposed on thoroughbred racers.

“These are elite athletes, now cows plucked out of paddocks in Norfolk,” he said.

“These horses pose no threat.

“Sick horses are not loaded on planes to run in Melbourne Cups.”

With the first of the international invaders targeting Melbourne Spring Carnival glory due to arrive at Victoria’s Werribee quarantine centre on September 24, Racing Victoria are acting fast to rectify quarantine concerns with European owners and trainers.

Currently scouting Europe in a bid to attract more international interest to the Melbourne Spring Carnival, Racing Victoria’s international recruiter Leigh Jordon pledged a prompt resolution.

“I am talking with them (AQIS) and we are confident of coming up with a solution. Might be within days,” Jordon said.

Cumani, however, wasn’t buying.

“When you’re dealing with bureaucracy, you’re banging your head against a wall and end up with a headache,” he said.