This year, I was fortunate enough to attend the 153rd running of the Melbourne Cup. It was a top class event, attracting outstanding stayers from Britain, Ireland, France and Australia, and was won by the favourite, the classy Fiorente, a former inmate of Sir Michael Stoute.
Although the winner was Aussie trained (by the hugely popular Gai Waterhouse), it was notable that four of the first five horses had strong connections to Newmarket, whether by breeding, trainer or ownership.
The first, Fiorente, was originally trained in Newmarket, and won the Group 2 Princess of Wales’ Stakes at his local course in 2012. Although relocated to Australia in time to finish second in last year’s Melbourne Cup, he is still thought of as an ex-English horse, rather than an Aussie. Indeed, Gai Waterhouse used his victory to demonstrate the dominance of foreign bred horses in the Cup, and to plead with Australian breeders not to neglect the slower maturing, stamina laden horse in favour of the precocious, speedy juvenile. Fiorente may still return to our shores to compete in the 2014 Ascot Gold Cup, and while he may not race at Newmarket, it seems likely that he will be stabled there, as previous Australian horses have been.
The second, Red Cadeaux, is the hard luck story of the Melbourne Cup as he has finished second in this race twice, by a heart-breaking nose to Dunaden in 2011, and this time by a more convincing three-quarters of a length. His Newmarket based trainer, Ed Dunlop, can nonetheless be proud of his outstanding run, and it really looked like he would hold on a furlong from home.
The third place horse, Mount Athos, is likewise trained by a Newmarket stalwart in Luca Cumani.
In fifth place came the admirable Dandino, winner of the Jockey Club Cup at Newmarket, and a real favourite with the locals.
The impact of Newmarket on international races such as the Melbourne Cup is truly impressive, and merely adds to the legacy of the historic town and it’s hundreds of people involved in the racing industry.
By Alice Kay