Australian owners and trainers lamenting the international dominance of this year’s Melbourne Cup might do well to take a leaf out of the book of jockey Michael Rodd, and do something about it.
With the possibility of half of the 24-horse Cup field being made up of foreign-trained horses or runners recently imported from Europe, the predictable outcry has gone up from many locals.
When the New Zealand entries and those purchased from Europe by Lloyd Williams are taken into account, only one Australian-bred horse seems likely to make the field.
The situation makes it difficult for all sections of the local industry, but some are working harder at holding on to a share of the action than others.
Rodd, who won the 2007 Cup on Efficient, has picked up the ride on English stayer Red Cadeaux thanks largely to some concerted self-promotion with the horse’s trainer Ed Dunlop.
“I heard Ed Dunlop was looking for a local jockey so I put my name in and I was lucky enough to get the ride,” Rodd said.
Craig Williams and Kerrin McEvoy are other local riders who have secured mounts on international runners and the ride on English stayer Fox Hunt could got to an Australian.
Most of the raiders will have local hoops in the saddle.
Rodd acknowledged that he has the advantage of having a higher profile than many of his colleagues, but said the challenge was there for locals to push their case with overseas trainers.
“I’m lucky, I’ve won a Melbourne Cup and I’m more marketable,” Rodd said.
“Some of the guys are very good riders but are harder to sell to the international owners and trainers.
“But it looks like they are starting to learn a bit and work out that they need to employ us local guys who know the track and the racing environment.”
“Things are changing and it might make it a little more difficult, but we’ll adapt.”
Rodd had his first ride on Red Cadeaux at the Werribee racetrack quarantine centre on Monday and came away satisfied that his effort to partner the horse could pay dividends.
“We had a look at some tapes … he’s got form around all these good horses – Americain who is favourite and Jukebox Jury,” he said.
Red Cadeaux came through the race that is shaping as the “Cup maker”, the Prix Kergorlay (3000m) run at Deauville in August.
Americain, the defending Cup champion and winner of last Saturday’s Moonee Valley Cup, ran in the race finishing in the second half of the field.
The winner, Jukebox Jury, has dead-heated in a Group One race since.
Rodd agreed the face of the Melbourne Cup has changed dramatically this season.
“It’s starting to look like the International Cup more than the Melbourne Cup,” he said.
“But it’s great for the Australian racing industry for them to bring these horses over and we get a lot more exposure overseas.”
Red Cadeaux worked at three-quarter pace over 1600m at Werribee and Rodd is hoping to give the horse a more searching test later in the week.