Racing Victoria believes it is close to securing a deal with the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) to allow So You Think to contest a third Cox Plate during the Spring Carnival.
AQIS has recently laid down its hard-line policy on European quarantine facilities, naming two major centres, Ballydoyle in Ireland and Side Hill in England, unsuitable.
Aidan O’Brien suggested So You Think may venture to Australia for a shot at a third consecutive Cox Plate after last weekend’s Eclipse Stakes win.
Should O’Brien choose to travel south for the spring, the head leading trainer would want to prepare So You Think at his home Ballydolye stables.
Racing Victoria’s chief executive, Rob Hines, is hopeful that the current negotiations will lead to a successful resolution.
“Racing Victoria is in active negotiations with AQIS regarding the pre export quarantine arrangements at both Side Hill in Newmarket and Ballydoyle in Ireland,” Mr Hines said.
“We are hopeful of reaching a solution that will see both of these facilities passed fit for use by European horses prior to their journey to Australia to participate in this year’s Spring Racing Carnival.”
Coolmore Australia General Manager Michael Kirwan said that O’Brien would not be comfortable making the trip to Australia unless his home stable was reapproved as a quarantine facility.
“It’s definitely on the agenda but these quarantine restrictions can mess the whole thing up,” Mr Kirwan said.
“How is Aidan going to prepare a horse if he’s in England or some place like that?
“This quarantine has got completely out of control.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous and doesn’t make any sense.”
The rigid new AQIS stipulations were put into place after Ian Callinan AC made 38 recommendations in his 2007 equine influenza outbreak report.
“It’s very strict and there’s no need for it,” Mr Kirwan insisted.
“If horses are vaccinated and everything is in order, there should be no issues.”
Mr Kirwan believes that our quarantine regulations are much too strict when compared to the rest of the world.
“For instance if we have a horse going to America to race, it’s 48 hours and then he can do whatever he likes with them, but you can’t do that here. It’s ludicrous,” he said.
The Coolmore Australia manager believes that changes need to be made if there is to be any chance of So You Think running here in October.
“With the quarantine restrictions, it’s going to make it very very difficult and there’s a lot of other options open for him,” Mr Kirwan said.
AQIS made a statement yesterday maintaining they had yet to make a final decision regarding the suitability of Ballydoyle as a quarantine facility.