Local trainers are weighing into the Melbourne Cup entry requirements debate, arguing that international stayers are being given too great a preference in the race.
With Australian horses having to fulfil more qualifying conditions than their overseas counterparts, trainers like Peter Moody and David Hayes are finally having their say.
Moody believes that the form of international runners is weighted more highly by the handicappers.
The trainer is seeking a start with his Australian runner Vatuvei, who is currently the 44th horse in the order of entry for the Melbourne Cup and unlikely to gain a start in the race.
This is despite his last start win in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup at Moonee Valley racecourse last weekend.
“If this horse had won a five-horse Irish St Leger with three pacemakers and beaten a Galway maiden hurdle winner, he’d be guaranteed a start,” Moody said.
“Or if he’d run first five in an Epsom Derby, beaten 27.3 lengths, his rating would be high enough to get in.”
David Hayes can appreciate the need for change, despite winning the 1994 Melbourne Cup with imported stayer Jeune.
The trainer feels that local races like the Herbert Power Stakes, Moonee Valley Cup and Geelong Cup should possess automatic entry into the $6 million race over lesser Northern Hemisphere races.
“How is it that these key mile and a half races within six weeks of the Melbourne Cup are not exempt races?” he said.
“There has to be a better system. If a horse like Gatewood, winning the key lead-up races, cannot gain a start, then there’s something wrong.”
Gatewood was awarded just a one kilogram penalty for his win in the Group 3 Geelong Cup, which is not enough to guarantee him a start in the Cup.
He will now have to run a third time in order to attempt to force himself into the field.
While he is not a local, it does highlight the need for more ballot exemptions in the weeks leading into the Melbourne Cup each year.
Peter Moody feels the answer would be to give the Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane Cups winners automatic entry into the race each year.
“We need to give local stayers more of a chance to get in,” he said.