No New Zealand horses in the Melbourne Cup? How can it have got to this?
Kiwis may bask in the joy of the All Blacks finally being on top of the world again, but on Tuesday they won’t have a locally-trained runner to back, possibly for the first time in more than 60 years, in a race they once thought of as theirs.
From the 1950s to the 80s, it seemed that if a New Zealand-trained horse didn’t win the Cup, a New Zealand-bred horse at least would – there were 10 New Zealand-trained and 25 New Zealand-bred winners in that period.
The Cup’s been harder to win since European horses began competing in 1993, but there’s always been at least one horse trained in New Zealand – until 2011.
A quick look at Cup records suggests you have to go back to the 1940s to find the last Melbourne Cup without a New Zealand-trained runner.
Mike Moroney, who has stables in Matamata and Melbourne, will line up Glass Harmonium on Tuesday, but the horse was bred in Europe and he’s never been trained at Matamata.
Even New Zealand-bred horses are hard to find. This year there are just three – Tullamore (a $21 chance), Precedence ($41) and Shamrocker ($51).
Patriotic punters might have to back Glass Harmonium – as well as the Moroney connection, he’ll be ridden by expat Kiwi Lisa Cropp and he’s part-owned by Auckland businessman Gerard Peterson who also has a share in the English-trained Drunken Sailor.
Cambridge Stud supremo Sir Patrick Hogan has a share in Precedence, but otherwise New Zealanders will have to cheer for expat jockey Jim Cassidy (aboard $19 chance Illo) or expat trainer Chris Waller (trainer of Hawk Island and The Verminator).
If it’s any consolation for New Zealanders, it’s not much better for the Aussies.
Eleven of the 24 runners are trained in the Northern Hemisphere, and a remarkable 18 were bred north of the equator – numbers the New Zealanders used to put up in the 1970s and 80s.
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