Quarantine requirements threaten Ballydoyle plans
AIDAN O'BRIEN on Thursday warned that significant changes to quarantine requirements continue to threaten the participation of Ballydoyle-trained horses in this year's Emirates Melbourne Cup.
O'Brien has placed on hold plans for Australia's most famous race and the Melbourne Spring Carnival until satisfied that new quarantine regulations, imposed following last year's outbreak of equine flu in Australia, will not harm the preparation of star horses.
The trainer, who has tried unsuccessfully in the last two years to win the Melbourne Cup, has entered his triple Gold Cup winner and Flemington top weight Yeats, Septimus, Macarthur and Honolulu.
He said: "Before we think seriously about sending any horses to Australia for the Melbourne Cup or other races, we want to see if we can come to a mutually acceptable agreement on the quarantine situation.
"The requirements are different to the last two years. The Australian authorities want horses to go into quarantine for three weeks before travelling and to spend another three weeks in quarantine when they arrive in Victoria.
"They want us to lock any horses we are planning to send to Australia in an isolation area at Ballydoyle with no access to our main gallops. So we're talking about three weeks with only access to a short gallop, which would make it difficult for training purposes.
"Last year we were able to use the main gallops when Mahler and Scorpion were in quarantine here which made things a lot easier."
O'Brien, for whom Mahler finished third in the Melbourne Cup last year, added: "We have all the facilities here and would be able to control the situation with horseswho might be going to Australia being able to use the main gallops when no other horses would be using them.
"There is someone coming from Australia to look at the situation in the next few days with a representative of our own Department of Agriculture. Hopefully, we will be able to come to some agreement."