First internationals enter pre-export quarantine in Europe ahead of Lexus Melbourne Cup

Three international horses have entered pre-export quarantine in Europe as part of the first shipment on their way to intended targets in Melbourne this spring.

Both Spanish Mission and Gold Trip carry nominations for this year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup, while State of Rest is targeting the Cox Plate and may progress to compete in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes during Cup Week.

Spanish Mission, trained by Andrew Balding, is one of the leading stayers in Europe and is currently second favourite with the TAB for ‘the race that stops a nation’™, having run a close second in the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup during the recent York Ebor Festival.

French export Gold Trip will be transferred to his new Australian trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace once he arrives in Melbourne, while State of Rest will be the first arrival for the strong Joseph O’Brien stable.

Spanish Mission headlines an elite band of six internationally-trained horses still in contention for the Lexus Melbourne Cup after first acceptances were taken earlier this week, with the other horses expected to join the second shipment. These include last year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup winner Twilight Payment and Master of Reality – fourth in the 2019 Lexus Melbourne Cup – for Joseph O’Brien, Group 1 Goodwood Cup runner up Away He Goes for Ismail Mohammed and Group 3 placed Rodrigo Diaz for David Simcock. Ebor Handicap winner Sonnyboyliston for Johnny Murtagh is also a first acceptor but is not yet confirmed to travel.

Twilight Payment, Master of Reality and Sonnyboyliston are set to run in Sunday’s Group 1 Irish St Leger, while Rodrigo Diaz runs in the Group 2 Doncaster Cup tonight.

Sir Lucan runs in the Group 1 English St Leger tomorrow and will also be on the second shipment, ahead of his transferral to his new Australian trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott.

VRC Executive General Manager Racing Leigh Jordon said it was encouraging to see the first internationals preparing to travel to Melbourne.

“It is great to see the three European horses Spanish Mission, State of Rest and Gold Trip have entered pre-export quarantine having met all the necessary pre-export veterinary requirements to date,” Mr Jordon said.

“We are particularly excited to see a horse with the credentials of Spanish Mission, who finished a close second to champion stayer Stradivarius in the Lonsdale Cup last start, take his place in quarantine as he continues on the road to Lexus Melbourne Cup. 

“We wish all three horses a smooth and safe journey and look forward to welcoming them to Melbourne.”

The Lexus Melbourne Cup will be run on Tuesday 2 November as part of the iconic Melbourne Cup Carnival which begins with Penfolds Victoria Derby Day on Saturday 30 October and also features Kennedy Oaks Day on Thursday 4 November and Mackinnon Stakes Day on Saturday 6 November. 

All the action from the 2021 Melbourne Cup Carnival can be seen free to air on Network 10. 

The full list of first acceptors for the 2021 Lexus Melbourne Cup can be found here.