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Bloodworth: August key to internationals

Time is very much on the side of Racing Victoria in determining whether this year's Spring Carnival will be run in its traditional format or change is required due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, co-trainer Wayne Hawkes suggested June 1 as a deadline for Australian jurisdictions to make a call on the spring racing calendar, hours after the Moonee Valley Racing Club suggested the Cox Plate might not be held this year.

So discussing the possibility of international participation during the Melbourne Spring Carnival at this stage is perhaps akin to putting the cart before the horse.

However, Paul Bloodworth is tasked with monitoring matters abroad in his General Manager role for RV.

"We'll keep looking at the situation to see if international participation on this year's Spring Carnival is still possible," Bloodworth said.

"Horses can move freely but staff with horses for overseas trainers couldn't come to Australia under current travel restrictions."

Bloodworth nominated August 1 as the date he'd like to be in a position to advise overseas participants as to whether they could travel to Victoria.

"If we don't have an answer by early August it will be too late," he added.

The successes of Mer De Glace (Caulfield Cup) and Lys Gracieux (Cox Plate) during last year's Spring Carnival were expected to stimulate greater interest from Japanese trainers and owners in 2020.

And the fact Japan continues to race during the pandemic may place it in a stronger position than other jurisdictions to travel horses to Australia later in the year.

"They ran a Grade 1 sprint race last weekend and also some staying races which would normally contain horses we'd be looking for the Spring Carnival," Bloodworth said.

"Their major staying race in their spring period is the Tenno Sho, which is a good guide for Caulfield and Melbourne Cup runners. I'd be normally talking to Japanese trainers around that time in late May and early June."

Bloodworth would also usually be having initial discussions with Europeans during that period, but racing has been suspended in the major jurisdictions across that continent.

The flat season across Europe would ordinarily have started during March but Ireland's season was disrupted after just two days of action, while France is hopeful of restarting midway through April and Britain looks at the start of May.

Speculation surrounds how British racing will restart next month, with suggestions handicap races could be held across three segregated regions without any Stakes races, replacing the traditional calendar.

Bloodworth's role in identifying suitable candidates for the Spring Carnival will become considerably harder in those circumstances.

But should Stakes racing be placed on hold in Europe, it may lead to increased interest from overseas counterparts seeking to race for attractive prizemoney and black type.

"I would say that if the British, Irish and French seasons don't go ahead as planned and we do have the capacity to have international horses in the spring, it might actually lead to us having a higher demand as trainers and owners seek to make something out of 2020 if they haven't been able to run in a lot of races in their home country," he said.

"But there's a lot of water to go under the bridge in that regard."

RV's lone quarantine centre with a training facility is at Werribee, with Canterbury racecourse in Sydney, operated by Racing NSW, the other approved racing quarantine centre that could have the potential to accommodate any spillover.

The 2019 Melbourne Cup before packed stands, picture Quentinjlang.com.au

 

 

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