Leading Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien could be surprise guest at this year’s Melbourne spring carnival.
O’Brien has not returned to Australia since his doomed attempt to take out the Melbourne Cup in 2008, however sources close to the Ballydoyle trainer say he is seriously considering another trip to Australia.
Leigh Jordan, who acts Racing Victoria’s international consultant, visited with O’Brien earlier in the week and he remains confident that the spring carnival is high on the champion trainer’s agenda.
“I’ve tried to entice Aidan back every year since (2008) and you could always tell that it wasn’t going to happen,” Jordan said.
“But this time he seems really keen. He said that if quarantine issues could be sorted out, he’d come.”
Many have written off the possibility of So You Think coming back to Australia to attempt a third consecutive Cox Plate because O’Brien has nominated the horse for the Breeders Cup in America, however Jordan said that it was not such a remote possibility.
“The vibe I’m getting from Aidan is that it’s a genuine option,” he said.
“A horse like Cape Blanco (winner of the Man O War Stakes at Belmont in the US) would be more likely, first for the Cox Plate then the Melbourne Cup.”
Dato Tan Chin Nam, who still controls a share in So You Think said he would be leaving the decision on where to race So You Think in the hands of Aidan O’Brien.
“I learned a long time ago to listen to great trainers, that is why you give them your horses,” Dato Tan said.
“I listen to Bart and we have been very successful. So You Think is now with Aidan O’Brien so I listen to his advice.
“If Aidan O’Brien says that it is the Cox Plate then I would love to see him come home and defend his title. If Aidan says there is more to conquer then I say ‘conquer’.
“Only Kingston Town has won three Cox Plates and no horse from Australia or New Zealand has won the Arc or a Breeders Cup race. History stands before him. I think So You Think will man up and show what he can do wherever he goes.”
If O’Brien does come to Melbourne he will be hoping for a better time than he had in 2008. That year he had three runners in the Melbourne Cup and everything that could go wrong did.
He was hauled before the stewards over the tearaway tactics of Alessandro Volta, after stewards thought that O’Brien could have been using the pacemaker tactic, which is perfectly legal in England but tantamount to bowling a cricket ball underarm in Australia. His other two runners, Honolulu and Septimus pulled up lame.
Overseas trainers planning to bring horses to Melbourne for the spring carnival have had their plans thrown into disarray because of a rule that states that all horses coming to Australia must be quarantined for three weeks. The major problem with this is the fact that the new quarantine centre is located very close to the Newmarket stabling facilities of a number of trainers including Luca Cumani. This has left officials with two choices. Either move the stabled horses away from the Quarantine area or move the quarantine area itself.
However officials are confident a compromise can be reached in time for the overseas horses to come to Australia.