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Fellowes fears Melbourne Cup changes may rule out European challenge

Charlie Fellowes believes the changes to Melbourne Cup qualification criteria will make it “nigh on impossible” for European-trained horses to compete in Australia’s greatest race.

A series of new measures are to be brought in to combat what officials felt was an unacceptable rate of injuries and fatalities – mainly to overseas contenders.

The number of international horses permitted  at the Werribee International Quarantine Centre will be limited to 24 – down from 42 in 2018 – and those horses will be allowed just one run in Australia before their Cup challenge.

They will also have to undergo a series of tests before travelling, at their owners’ expense, have tests once they arrive in Australia and comply with pre-race checks while in quarantine.

Prince Of Arran has taken Fellowes all around the world
Prince Of Arran has taken Fellowes all around the world (Mathea Kelley/JCSA)

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Any horse who has suffered a previous fracture will be denied the opportunity, as will those who have undergone orthopaedic surgery.

Fellowes has enjoyed great success with Prince Of Arran in Australia, who has been placed in the race three times as well as winning the Lexus Stakes and the Geelong Cup.

He said: “I completely understand that changes had to be made. I get that this wonderful race is under pressure from animal welfare groups, which I have seen at first hand on my trips.

“Yes it is a minority, but we see them when we do the parade and something had to be done. For that, I feel very sorry for the RV (Racing Victoria) and the organisers because they’ve been put between a rock and a hard place.

“However, I feel they have been brutally unlucky and I worry that the measures outlined in the report that European-trained horses are going to have to pass are basically impossible.

“There are a few parts in the report that actually don’t make sense, and I feel incredibly sad that it will now be nigh on impossible to take a horse down there – and I have loved every minute of my trips to Australia.”

Fellowes fears it could have a major impact on the number of horses leaving the UK to race permanently in Australia, too.

He added: “I think it is potentially disastrous for European trainers, because any horse deemed good enough to run in the Melbourne Cup will now be realistically moved to Australia to race – where they will not have to go through the same veterinary checks that they will if the same horse is with a European trainer.

“So, it will result in us losing more horses. John Gosden’s comments recently of Britain turning into a nursery for other racing jurisdictions rings even truer this morning – and I think it is a very sad day.

“It really is the most wonderful race and it is incredibly sad what has happened. I believe there are other changes which could have been made that haven’t, that wouldn’t have restricted Europeans going there and would have helped prevent further injuries from happening.

“Look at Royal Ascot this year without the Australian sprinters. When they come they add so much to the meeting – and when they don’t it is to the detriment of Royal Ascot. That is why Ascot have a team who go around the world trying to get them to come and race in England, which is welcomed.

“It is very sad that it will not be happening to the Melbourne Cup.”

Prince primed for latest globetrotting assignment in Riyadh

Prince Of Arran was reported to be “spot on” for the $2.5million Red Sea Turf Handicap after working on the track at Riyadh on Wednesday.

The eight-year-old, who has placed in the Melbourne Cup for the last three years, went six furlongs in the hands of Aled Beech ahead of Saturday’s engagement.

The jockey is looking after the horse while Fellowes remains at home in Newmarket due to Covid-19 restrictions.

“He started at the finishing line, cantered away for two furlongs and then picked it up for the final six,” said Fellowes.

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“Aled Beech, who is in Saudi Arabia with the horse and who went to Australia with him, just let him roll home the last two furlongs, just a nice stretch to get a blow into him, and he was very happy with him.

“Aled said Prince Of Arran had a nice blow walking home but cleared pretty quickly, which has really put him about spot on now for his race on Saturday. He’s taken the trip well, as you’d expect from a horse with as much travelling experience as he’s got.

“He’s been eating and drinking well and moving good, and his temperature has been pretty much spot-on since he landed. So it looks like everything so far has gone smoothly, which is great.”

Oxted warmed up for his run in the $1.5m Saudi Arabian Airlines Riyadh Dirt Sprint by going six furlongs on the dirt course.

The July Cup winner was partnered by trainer Roger Teal’s son, Harry, and appeared to take well to the surface.

“We just let him have a nice stretch forward this morning,” said the trainer.

“I thought he looked really good and Harry said he felt great on the surface. He came round the bend nicely – we kicked up a gear on the bend and he handled that all right.

“He went six (furlongs) and Harry built it up as he went along. He quickened into the bend and let him freewheel around the turn and then for the last furlong let him have a good stride out. We were very happy with that.”

Dettori booked for Prince Of Arran in Saudi Arabia

Frankie Dettori will ride Prince Of Arran for the first time in the Red Sea Turf Handicap in Riyadh next weekend.

The $2.5million contest at the Saudi Cup meeting is the latest adventure for the Charlie Fellowes-trained Prince Of Arran, who has been an outstanding servant to his connections in races all around the world.

He has been placed in the last three Melbourne Cups and looked in good heart when finishing a close third on his reappearance at Kempton earlier this month.

Frankie Dettori has some big rides coming up in Saudi Arabia
Frankie Dettori has some big rides coming up in Saudi Arabia (David Davies/PA)

Fellowes told ITV Racing: “He’s in good nick and I’m looking forward to seeing him out there, hopefully the journey goes well.

“We’ve got Frankie up, which will be interesting. He’s never ridden him before, but you couldn’t have a better jockey in the plate.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

Prince Of Arran ready for his Saudi warm-up at Kempton

Prince Of Arran will warm up for his international mission in Saudi Arabia later this month by contesting the Unibet Conditions Stakes at Kempton.

Charlie Fellowes’ globe-trotting stable star was last seen finishing third in the Melbourne Cup in November – the third time he has been placed in the Flemington showpiece, having been third in 2018 and second in 2019.

Prince Of Arran will soon be on his travels again, with the Turf Handicap on the Saudi Cup undercard next on his agenda, but he will first attempt to bag a fourth victory at Kempton on Saturday evening.

Fellowes said: “Saudi Arabia is obviously the number one goal, and he goes there in two weeks’ time, but this looks like a good place for him to have a warm-up.

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“He’s fit and ready to rock and roll. He will improve for the race, but he loves Kempton – and this race suits perfectly.

“I’m surprised I’ve never run him over two miles at Kempton before – it’s probably his optimum trip, around his favourite track.

“It will be interesting to see how he gets on. Rainbow Dreamer is a nice horse for us to have in the race, because he’ll make us work and might even beat us.

“We need to go and have a nice run to bring him on fitness-wise ahead of Saudi.”

Alan King’s Rainbow Dreamer is bidding for back-to-back victories in this All-Weather Championships Fast-Track Qualifier – and may have a fitness edge, following recent placed efforts at Newcastle and Wolverhampton.

King also runs Scarlet Dragon, while Roger Teal is excited to saddle Ocean Wind – who has won three of his four starts on the Flat and makes his first appearance since scoring at Doncaster in October.

“Ocean Wind is as ready as we can get him at home, although I suspect he will come on a bit for the run – win, lose or draw,” said Teal.

“He surprises us nearly every time he goes to the track, and we don’t know where the ceiling is for him yet.

“If he was to win at the weekend, we would very much consider the Marathon race on All-Weather Championships Finals Day (at Lingfield), because I think he has quite a few strings to his bow.

“Initially, we were thinking of taking him to Saudi Arabia, but he did not make the cut.”

Richard Fahey’s Furzig completes the field.

Prince Of Arran set for Kempton spin ahead of international targets

Prince Of Arran is likely to run at Kempton next month before heading off on his travels again.

The Charlie Fellowes-trained eight-year-old was placed in the Melbourne Cup for the third successive year when he last ran in November, being beaten three-quarters of a length in third by Twilight Payment.

Given a short break since, Fellowes reports Prince Of Arran to have put on plenty of condition and feels a run before travelling to Saudi Arabia and Dubai may also give him other options.

“He’s going to Saudi Arabia, provided everything is fine,” said Fellowes.

“He’s come back in looking too well, but he didn’t go out until late. He’s come back with a proper belly on him, so I’ll have to get some proper work into him.

“I think I’ll give him a prep run before Saudi, which I’ve not done before, but I just feel he needs it this year, so he might go to Kempton for a Fast-Track Qualifier over two miles in early February.

“That is two weeks before the Saudi Cup and it would work absolutely perfectly, so he’d run there, go to Saudi the following week and then off to Dubai.

“I just feel he needs the run this year. He loves Kempton, two miles there is perfect for him and should he win that – who knows what will happen with the pandemic – but it gives us the option of Finals Day if he gets qualified.

“It will open up a few doors as well as helping me get him fitter.”

Melbourne Cup Trends

Run each year on the first Tuesday in November (3rd) the Melbourne Cup is dubbed as ‘the race that stops a nation’. Run over 2m it’s the richest handicap run over that distance in the world.

Staged at Flemington racecourse in Melbourne, Australia the race always attracts runners from all corners of the globe, but there are also many key trends and stats to help you find the winner of the 2020 Melbourne Cup.

 

Recent Melbourne Cup Winners

2019 – VOW AND DECLARE (10/1)
2018 –
CROSS COUNTER (8/1)
2017 –
REKINDLING (14/1)
2016 –
ALMANDIN (10/1)
2015 –
PRINCE OF PENZANCE (100/1)
2014 –
PROTECTIONIST (7/1)
2013 –
FIORENTE (6/1 fav)
2012 – GREEN MOON (19/1)
2011 – DUNADEN (15/2)
2010 – AMERICAIN (12/1)
2009 – SHOCKING (9/1)
2008 – VIEWED (40/1)
2007 – EFFICIENT (16/1)
2006 – DELTA BLUES (17/1)
2005 – MAKYBE DIVA (17/5 fav)
2004 – MAKYBE DIVA (13/5 fav)

Key Melbourne Cup Betting Trends and Stats

16/16 – Had won a Group class race before
14/16 – Had raced within the last 4 weeks
14/16 – Raced at either Geelong (2), Flemington (3), Caulfield (4) or Moon Valley (5) last time
14/16 – Won 8 or fewer races before
14/16 – Winners from stall 5 or higher
14/16 – Winning distance – 2 lengths or less
11/16 – Had raced within the last 2 weeks
11/16 – Placed in the top 3 last time out
10/16 – Won by a AUS-based horse
10/16 – Aged 5 or older
10/16 – Drawn in stall 9 or higher
10/16 – Had raced at Flemington Park before (7 won there)
10/16 – Returned 12/1 or shorter in the betting
9/16 – Horses from stall 10 or 11 placed
9/16 – Aged 6 or older
8/16 – Won by a 6 year-old
8/16 – Had won over 1m7f or further before
7/16 – Placed favourites
4/16 – Had won just once before
4/16 – Won last time out
3/16 – Winning favourites
3/16 – Had raced in a previous Melbourne Cup
2/16 – French-trained winners
2/16 – English/Irish winners
The average winning SP in the last 16 runnings is 18/1

 

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O’Brien out to break Melbourne Cup duck

Aidan O’Brien holds a strong hand in the Emirates Melbourne Cup with Anthony Van Dyck and Tiger Moth as he aims to break his duck in the famous race at Flemington in the early hours of Tuesday.

He has had various horses placed in the race, but the closest he has come is 2017 when Johannes Vermeer was beaten half a length by Rekindling, trained by his son Joseph.

While O’Brien has tended to run those guaranteed to stay the trip – his four-time Ascot Gold Cup winner Yeats finished seventh in 2006 – this year he is sending different types.

Anthony Van Dyck came out on top in a blanket finish to win last year’s Derby at Epsom and won his first race since then in September in the Prix Foy, and was then second in the Caulfield Cup, while Tiger Moth has had just four runs in his life but he was second in the Irish Derby in June.

Tiger Moth (14) was just held off by stablemate Santiago in the Irish Derby
Tiger Moth (14) was just held off by stablemate Santiago in the Irish Derby (PA Wire)

“They are two very nice horses we sent this year – a Derby winner and an Irish Derby runner-up,” said O’Brien.

“We were very happy with Anthony Van Dyck’s run in the Caulfield Cup.

“The lads who are over there with him, and Shane who rides him out, are all very happy with him.

“Hugh (Bowman) has sat on him a few times and has been very happy with him.

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“Tiger Moth obviously hasn’t run over there but he ran an excellent race in the Irish Derby and won well the race before he left to go to Australia.

“There wasn’t really any other race he could run in, and he was just getting in the Melbourne Cup with a nice weight, so we decided not to run him (beforehand).

“They’ve been very happy since he’s been down there – everything is very good with him, and I suppose there’s just another canter to go. I’m hoping they both run well.”

Because of travel difficulties presented by the pandemic, none of O’Brien’s usual jockeys is making the trip. But he has employed two of the best Australia has ever seen in Bowman, known for his association with Winx, and Kerrin McEvoy, familiar to a British audience thanks to his ties with Godolphin.

“We’ve got one drawn inside (Anthony Van Dyck in three) and one on the outside (Tiger Moth 23) – so who knows, we’ll see how that plays out,” added O’Brien.

“I’ll be speaking to both Hugh and Kerrin before the race, and see what the lads think.

“I’m delighted to have the two of them – they are two great riders with great experience.”

Asked if he has modified his approach to the race this year, he said: “I’m not sure. I’ve obviously never won it, but we’ve taken some very good horses out.

“These are two high-class colts who get a mile and a half well, so we’ll see how they do. It’s always a great race – different this year with no crowd I’m sure, but exciting all the same.”

Charlie Fellowes is becoming something of a celebrity Down Under thanks to the exploits of Prince Of Arran, who has been placed in the race for the past two years.

“I’m gutted that I’m not over there,” he said.

“Melbourne has been a huge part of my life for the last two years.

“I’d give a lot to be there right now, but there are bigger things going on in the world.

“The horse has done it all before – he knows what to expect, and I know everything is being done as if I was there.”

Prince Of Arran is in stall one and will be ridden by Jamie Kah – the same stall from which Prince Of Penzance left, when creating history under Michelle Payne in 2015.

“The more I think about stall one the happier I am,” Fellowes added, on Australian radio station RSN.

“He’s clever, he’s seven – and there’s a reason he’s still at the top of his game, he’s looked after himself by only doing what he has to, so an inside barrier makes life easier.

“When he gets too much daylight that is when he thinks it is job done. If he flops out of the gate we might have a problem, but I’m pretty confident that is not going to happen.

“The last two years, our ‘Derby’ has been the race before the Melbourne Cup – to get into it. This year we’ve known we were going to be in, so I’ve almost been able to take my time and we’ve kept him fresh – knowing the first Tuesday in November is the day that really matters.

“Obviously Michelle Payne won it on Prince Of Penzance from stall one, so we’re hoping Jamie can win from stall one on another Prince. Jamie is on a roll, and everything she sits on she thinks she’s going to win.”

Joseph O’Brien runs Master Of Reality, fourth last year, and Twilight Payment – while Andrew Balding’s Dashing Willoughby and Willie Mullins’ Stratum Albion (known at home as Stratum) complete the British and Irish challenge.

Sir Dragonet, formerly housed at Ballydoyle and winner of the Cox Plate, is the shortest-priced of the home contenders.

Prince Of Arran all set for Melbourne Cup again

Trainer Charlie Fellowes is looking forward to Prince Of Arran trying to improve on his already fine record in the Emirates Melbourne Cup at Flemington next month.

The seven-year-old warmed up for a third crack at the ‘race that stops a nation’ with a solid run in the Caulfield Cup on Saturday.

Prince Of Arran stayed on well in the closing stages of the mile-and-a-half feature to be beaten just two lengths in fourth place behind Verry Elleegant.

Fellowes reports the Shirocco gelding has taken the race well, despite suffering a superficial wound, and is on course for Melbourne on November 3.

The Newmarket trainer said: “He’s really good. He’s come through it well – he’s fresh and bouncing and moving well.

“He picked up a little cut on one of his front legs, but that was it. It’s nothing major at all. He seems in good form.

“It’s all systems go for the Melbourne Cup again.”

Prince Of Arran has covered himself in glory in the last two runnings of the two-mile showpiece. He was third in 2018, and was promoted to second from third spot last year.

Prince Of Arran poised for latest Australian adventure

Prince Of Arran is all set for his third attempt to win the Melbourne Cup – and his new big-race jockey should be known this weekend.

Charlie Fellowes confirmed his globetrotting stable star in perfect condition for the start of his latest adventure.

Prince Of Arran, who has been in quarantine in preparation for his 10,000-mile outward journey, will leave in the small hours of Thursday morning.

By the time he is safely settled again down under, the world may well know who is set to take over in the saddle too.

Michael Walker – who rode Prince Of Arran to be third at Flemington two years ago and then second 12 months ago, promoted from third after interference ahead of him – decided two weeks ago to switch to Dashing Willoughby this time.

On Wednesday, Fellowes said: “We are going to announce a jockey at the weekend.

“I can’t say quite now, but I think we’ve made our decision, and the plan is to announce who is going to ride then.”

Dashing Willoughby is Melbourne Cup-bound too
Dashing Willoughby is Melbourne Cup-bound too (Francesca Altoft/PA)

Prince Of Arran completed his British summer with an honourable third behind the brilliant mare Enable in Kempton’s September Stakes three weeks ago, and has since continued preparation in quarantine for his Australian schedule.

There, the seven-year-old will run in the Caulfield Cup on October 17 and then the Melbourne Cup on November 3.

“He’s really well,” added Fellowes.

“He galloped on the Limekilns on Tuesday with (Andrew Balding’s) Dashing Willoughby – they worked over seven furlongs, and they both seemed to be in great order.

“He is pretty much absolutely spot on where I want him – probably about five to 10 kilos heavy at the moment, which is great, and that gives him a bit of room for the trip down.

“Then he’ll do a couple of pieces of work down the other end.

“He’ll run in the Caulfield Cup, and then the Melbourne Cup.”