Irish raiders have had plenty of success in Melbourne during the famous Spring Carnival in recent years, but this year’s crop of runners will have a disrupted calendar to contend with after changes made to the Australian programme.
Aidan O’Brien’s Adelaide won the 2014 Cox Plate, while son Joseph saddled Rekindling to win the 2018 Melbourne Cup. The pair went agonisingly close in last year’s Race That Stops A Nation too, with Il Paradiso 3rd for Aidan O’Brien and Master Of Reality 4th for Joseph after being demoted.
There will undoubtedly be an influx of Irish-trained runners once again as they chase some of the biggest prizes on the planet, but things will be a little bit different in 2020 after a rejig of the Spring Carnival calendar.
While Australian racing has continued largely unaffected during the coronavirus outbreak, the knock on effect of the sporting calendar being halted will result in the Caulfield Cup moving six weeks from its traditional spot.
Normally, the strict quarantine periods would perfectly lead into the three-and-a-half weeks span of the big three races on Australia’s horse racing calendar. But under the new proposals there would be a five-week period between the Cox Plate on October 24 and the rescheduled Caulfield Cup on November 28.
That would leave a conundrum for the likes of the O’Briens, with the traditional lead of Caulfield Cup, which was due to be staged on October 17, into the Melbourne Cup not the same option as it has been in previous years.
And for any runners who would be targeted at both Group 1s, a run in between the Melbourne Cup and Caulfield Cup might well now need to come into consideration given the 25-day gap between the two races.
Race planning, travel timings and training while in Melbourne will all need to be thought out for any runners being considered for a tilt at the Australian prizes.
The Caulfield Cup is set to be delayed six weeks and run on November 28 due to the AFL Australian Rules season running into October having been halted during the coronavirus outbreak. Caulfield Guineas Day, which should have taken place a week earlier on October 10, will also move.
The Cox Plate at Moonee Valley will remain in its place and form part of a huge day, with the AFL Grand Final held in the evening for the first time.
The Melbourne Cup will also not move from its public holiday slot on the first Tuesday in November, with the Race That Stops A Nation assured of being run as expected on November 3.