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For the first time since 2006, the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival will be host to a contingent of classy Japanese runners after the announcement they have been cleared to travel Down Under in time for the spring.
Earlier in the month there were doubts whether Japanese quarantine facilities would be cleared by Australian officials in time for the Melbourne Cup Carnival, but the Federal Government and AQIS announced on Wednesday that approvals had been made.
It is welcome news for both countries as the VRC welcomes the strong international competition in Australia’s top feature races and the Japanese are eager to stake their claims in the time-honoured Melbourne Cup.
“This approval delivers a positive outcome for the state of Victoria and indeed the nation with a large contingent of Japanese media and tourists now set to join their horses in Melbourne in the coming months,” Racing Victoria General Manager of Racing Operations Leigh Jordon said.
The announcement that pre-export facilities at Tokyo and Nakayama have been cleared comes just in time, as nominations for the 2010 Melbourne Cup close next Tuesday.
The Melbourne Cup final field has not featured a representative from Japan since 2006, when Japanese duo Delta Blues and Pop Rock ran the quinella for owner Katsumi Yoshida.
Eye Popper, who placed second in the 2005 Caulfield Cup before finishing a lacklustre 12th in that year’s Melbourne Cup, is the only other Japanese horse to run in a Melbourne Cup.
In 2007 the breakout of the equine influenza saw a ban on Japanese runners travelling to Australia put in place, stopping them from contesting the Melbourne Cup.
This year marks the 150th running of the Melbourne Cup, worth a record $6 million, and there are two Japanese gallopers in particular with their eye on the Cup prize.
Jaguar Mail, also owned by Yoshida, will be a top chance in the 2010 Melbourne Cup after he claimed an inspiring victory in the Group 1 Tenno Sho (3200m), run over the same testing ‘two-mile’ distance of the Melbourne cup, at Kyoto in Japan back in May.
Leading Aussie hoop Craig Williams enjoyed the win aboard the Noriyuki Hori-trained Jaguar Mail in the Tenno Sho during his stint riding overseas and will take the mount on the star stayer if he makes the 2010 Melbourne Cup final field.
Tenno Sho runner-up Meiner Kitz is another Melbourne Cup aspirant.
“The Japanese horses proved during the 2005 and 2006 Spring Racing Carnivals that they are world class performers and their presence in the 150th Emirates Melbourne Cup and any lead-up races for that matter would add immense intrigue,” Jordon said.
There is also talk that Meiner Kitz’s stablemate Break A Theory is being aimed at the 2010 Victoria Derby on the opening Melbourne Cup Carnival meeting at Flemington on October 30.
If Break A Theory runs in the premier spring race for three-year-olds, they would be the first internationally-trained horse to contest the Victoria Derby.
Pre-nomination betting markets for the 2010 Melbourne Cup at SportingBet favour 2009 Crown Oaks winner Faint Perfume, with other early top elects including Linton, Profound Beauty and last year’s winner Shocking.
Bookmark us as we will be the first to publish the 2010 Melbourne Cup nominations next week, the latest spring carnival news and the final field and form for the Melbourne Cup in the coming months.
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