The Melbourne Cup sure ain’t what it was


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It’s now what wealthy elites do for enjoyable, leaving the Aussie battler with simply two possibilities – Buckley’s and none. Maybe that’s the best way it’s all the time been. In spite of everything, it’s known as the “sport of kings” for a motive.

The proof of that is overwhelming. Final yr’s Cup winner, Rekindling, was skilled by a 24-year-old Irishman, Joseph O’Brien, and owned by an Australian millionaire, Lloyd Williams.

Williams has one thing of an obsession with the Melbourne Cup and scours the world for the most effective stayers to compete in Australia’s mighty race. No matter he’s doing is working. Williams has now gained six Melbourne Cups and has one other favorite, Yucatan, on this yr’s race.

Yucatan, favourite for the Melbourne Cup.

Yucatan, favorite for the Melbourne Cup.Credit score:AAP

His fifth victory in 2016 nudged him in entrance of billionaire Malaysian entrepreneur Dato Tan Chin Nam, who gained 4 Melbourne Cups, all skilled by the legendary Bart Cummings.

Chin Nam’s finest probability of a fifth Cup got here in 2010 together with his duel Cox Plate winner, So You Assume. Nevertheless, it was to not be as French-trained, American-bred stallion Americain stormed house to win. Americain was owned by Jayco caravans magnate Gerry Ryan and Melbourne entrepreneur Kevin Bamford.

Different wealthy winners embody Sheikh Fahad Al-Thani, who gained the 2011 Melbourne Cup with Dunaden. Sheikh Fahad is a member of the ruling Qatari royal household and price billions.

Cummings, who gained the Cup 12 instances for millionaires and battlers, by no means actually embraced the internationalisation. He feared the worldwide raiders took the place of hard-working Aussie horses, trainers and house owners who help the Australian trade week in, week out. He wished a cap on what number of abroad horses had been allowed in.

His grandson, James, is now the Australian coach of one of many world’s greatest and richest worldwide stables, Godolphin. It’s owned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai.

Godolphin hasn’t gained the Melbourne Cup but, however it’s again this yr with the Cummings-trained Avilius and two extremely fancied worldwide horses, Caulfield Cup winner Finest Answer and Cross Counter. Then there’s British billionaire Marwan Koukash, who has boldly claimed he’ll strip all the way down to his underwear if his horse, Magic Circle, wins the Cup on Tuesday.

A complete of eight of the highest 10 horses in early betting are ready by European-based trainers. They’re right here for the status however, make no mistake, they’re additionally right here for the cash, which has grown to a document $7.three million this yr. The winner alone will take house $four million.

So it appears profitable the Cup is now reserved for a choose, privileged, rich few. This isn’t an odd anomaly, distinctive to the Melbourne Cup, or horse racing for that matter. Somewhat, it’s an indication of the instances.

Widespread sport in any period displays the society during which it exists. We had been as soon as egalitarian and equal. In lots of respects, we nonetheless are. However in at this time’s international and business world, sport is enterprise and cash talks.

So to search out the winner, your finest wager might be to get rid of learning the horses and as an alternative examine the wealth of the wealthy and well-known house owners.

They spend cash to win. And within the Melbourne Cup, no less than in current historical past, they normally do.

That’s now the world we reside in.

Sam Duncan is an Age columnist and a lecturer in sports activities media and advertising and marketing.

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