4 Nov 2013

Strong NZ presence in Melbourne Cup may be at an end

7:30 am on 4 November 2013

The racing industry says it's highly unlikely there will ever be a return to the days when several New Zealand bred and trained horses competed in the Melbourne Cup.

Galloper Silent Achiever has been withdrawn from Tuesday's race, leaving New Zealand horses absent from the field for the second year in a row. The 2012 New Zealand Derby winner sustained lacerations on her hind legs during the Caulfield Cup and was withdrawn at the weekend.

Since the race started in 1861, New Zealand horses have won it 42 times.

While New Zealand is still very strong in breeding horses, they are mainly for shorter distance races which are the most common in Australasia and in Asia, and not for a long distance race like the Melbourne Cup.

The owner of Waikato Stud, Gary Chittick, says European horses bred for long distance races like the Melbourne Cup are being entered in numbers for the race.

He says it is easier for the European horses to qualify because of the distances they race and the prize money they receive.

"There are in fact only three two-mile in races Australia currently that anybody really wants to win so it is difficult for breeders to really focus just on breeding two-mile horses. They'd actually go broke in the exercise."

A lack of distance races and very low stake money in New Zealand also means it is very difficult for a local horse to qualify for the Cup, industry figures say.