‘Nuclear scan’ makes it impossible to come to Melbourne Cup: O’Brien

Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien says it will virtually be impossible to bring horses to Melbourne for this year’s spring carnival given the pre-travel hoops the internationals will be forced to jump through.

Speaking at Royal Ascot where his mare Love won the group 1 Prince Of Wales Stakes, beating stablemate Armory (third) who ran second in last year’s Cox Plate, O’Brien said it appeared too difficult to send horses to Australia this spring.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien at Royal Ascot.Credit:Getty Images

O’Brien was the trainer of The Cliffsofmoher, who died in the 2018 Melbourne Cup, and Anthony Van Dyck, who died in last year’s race, which sparked a raft of new measures aimed at reducing horse fatalities both in the Cup and at the Werribee quarantine facility.

Racing Victoria’s adoption of 41 new safety measures includes more rigorous screening of international horses before and after they travel to Melbourne.

“I’m not sure whether we’ll get to go to Australia with many horses at all this year because there’s a new scan brought in that very few horses will pass,” O’Brien told Dubai Racing TV when asked if Armory could return to Melbourne.

“It’s a nuclear scan they’ve brought in where you have to inject dye into their system and they have to stay in a closed box for four days for this nuclear thing to work.

“Really it’s probably impossible for us to go with horses if that is one of the new things this year. Maybe that will change.

“I would imagine very few would get through that or very few [horses] we would ask to do that.”

However, Godolphin’s British trainer Charlie Appleby put this year’s Melbourne Cup firmly in his travel plans after the win of his stayer Kemari in the group 2 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot.

A northern hemisphere-bred three-year-old, Appleby said his rising stayer fits a similar profile to his 2018 Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter.

Trainer Charlie Appleby with Cross Counter at the 2018 Melbourne Cup.Credit:Getty Images

“We all know that in the last few years, three-year-olds in the Melbourne Cup have produced the goods,” Appleby said post-race.

“Whether he’ll get to that level we’ll see but as always we’ll enjoy today and have the discussions with our principals and managers during the next few weeks and map the autumn out.”

2017 Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling, 2019 placegetter Il Paradiso and 2020 runner-up Tiger Moth were also northern hemisphere-bred three-year-olds who ran well in the 3200-metre handicap.

The TAB on Thursday morning installed Kemari at $26 for the Melbourne Cup.

“As we all know, if you’re to step up to that level, to be able to stay is the most important thing but if you’ve got that acceleration which he has, William said he’s got a turn of foot,” Appleby told Sky Sports Racing.

“We’ll enjoy today and then we’ll start to map out the rest of the season. A three-year-old and what he’s achieved so far, [the Melbourne Cup] has to certainly be on the radar.”

Jockey William Buick said he believed Kemari, who was bred by Luca and Sara Cumani, was a Melbourne Cup horse in the making.

“I’d be very surprised if they don’t have one eye on that race,” Buick told Sky Sports Racing.

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