MICK SHARKIE believes Classic winners can turn the tide against imported stayers.
Australians are pretty good at adopting a trend, and for the last five years importing European stayers has been the hottest trend on the local racing scene.
What started in 2009 as trainer Chris Waller’s ambitious plan to source imports to bolster his staying stocks quickly spiralled out of control into a voracious industry-wide hunger for anything with a European suffix. During the buying spree in excess of 600 horses are registered as having been imported to Australia from Europe.
The craze was fuelled by a strong Australian dollar and desperation not to miss out on the next Fiorente, Americain, or Protectionist, and European stables were only too happy to cash in and feed the beast.
But the declining value of the Australian dollar and an inflated European market driven by Aussie interest has seen that hunger subside this season, with six runners in today’s BMW Caulfield Cup potentially holding the hammer that may apply a nail to the coffin.
Elvstroem, the 2004 Caulfield Cup winner, was the last Derby or Oaks winner to claim the race as a four-year-old, but today’s race includes six local Derby or Oaks winners, including four of last year’s classic winners. Mongolian Khan, Magicool, Gust Of Wind, and Set Square represent the best young staying horses in the country and, all bar $126 shot Magicool, are given a winning chance.