It’s Leigh Jordon’s job to persuade international connections to fork out $150,000 and put their prized horses through a 30-hour flight plus a tough quarantine regime just to get here for the Melbourne Cup.
Of course the prize money helps – $6.2 million for the world’s richest handicap, plus $3 million each for the Cox Plate and Caulfield Cup.
“The prize money definitely is a great lure for owners and connections to come here,” Racing Victoria’s international scout says.
“Logistics is difficult but I think the event, the prize money and just the whole build-up attracts people here to try and come and win this great race.”
Jordon admits it’s a pretty expensive exercise to have a Melbourne Cup contender.
“Connections are looking at $150,000 upward to come here, which I don’t usually tell them that when trying to entice them. It’s a big financial commitment.”
With 31 internationals among the 140 horses entered for this year’s Melbourne Cup, Jordon predicts there will be seven to nine overseas runners on November 3. Eleven internationally-trained horses are among the top 24 ranked horses in the initial order of entry.
He rates the quality of international contenders as the best he’s seen for a few years.
It includes Group One winners from Europe, plus two top Japanese runners in Fame Game and Hokko Brave.
Jockey Craig Williams is hoping to guide Hokko Brave to victory in both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, after he first found a Japanese translator to help him lock in the rides.
“I’ve been riding the last five years in Japan on contract so fortunately for me they’ve been able to see Craig Williams racing in Japan.”
Williams grew up in a racing family with dreams of the Melbourne Cup and has personally witnessed the attraction of the race rise on the international radar.
“When I went over to England and talked about the Melbourne Cup their comments were `it’s just another handicap’,” he recalls of his three years riding there more than a decade ago.
“The last two years I’ve been over there and been lucky enough to compete at their big meetings.
“When the horses win staying races, when they’re getting interviewed they say `oh maybe it’s good enough for the Melbourne Cup’, and I think that’s fantastic.”
This year Snow Sky is on course to be the first Melbourne Cup runner for Saudi prince and Juddmonte Farms owner Khalid Abdullah, best known for racing champion Frankel.
Jordon’s toughest sell, though, has been enticing Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien to have another crack at the Melbourne Cup after his trio of runners ended up well beaten in 2008.
“I think seeing Aidan every year it’s getting a little bit easier and easier, but it’s been a long time,” Jordon says.
“I’m hoping that this year’s the year that he comes back.”
While some will be hoping for a local winner on November 3, Jordon and Williams have great respect for three-time Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux coming out for his fifth attempt in a row.
That feat has only been carried out by two local horses in the past, and the popular English stayer will be doing it as a 10-year-old.
“He’s an international horse that’s had to go through quarantine, the 30-hour plus flight and to do it five years in a row,” Jordon says.
“I think if the crowd didn’t have a local win, I don’t think they would begrudge Red Cadeaux winning the race.”