by Ric Chapman
All may not be lost for horses trained in New South Wales as the Sydney Turf Club made an extraordinary announcement Sept. 1.
The club announced it would open Canterbury Park racecourse as a quarantine center. There are 40 stalls there that would quarantine New South Wales horses whose blood revealed no signs of equine influenza, which has impacted the Australian racing and breeding industries.
If the horses were set to race at the Victorian Carnival, they could go into quarantine at Canterbury and still be fit enough for the major races in Victoria. The plan is subject to Racing Victoria officials allowing New South Wales-trained horses to appear.
Said Sydney Racing Club spokesman Dr. Stephen Silk: “At this stage, the way we see it, it’s looking very doubtful. But, for instance, if things remain optimistic at training centers like Rosehill (in western Sydney), and the virus doesn’t get into Rosehill, I know the officials are all working on various protocols that maybe we’ll be able to get horses from Rosehill via quarantine zones at Canterbury and on the border between Victoria and New South Wales. But, at this stage, we’ve got to be sure we don’t spread the virus to other training centers.”
Racing NSW chief executive officer Peter V’Landys reacted immediately to the Sydney concept.
“We have put a plan in motion and contacted the Department of Primary Industries to determine the appropriate protocols and guidelines used if we can get Canterbury as a training and quarantine facility,” V’Landys said.
Meanwhile, racing returned to Australia Sept. 1, when the seven-furlong Memsies Stakes (Aust-II) was run in Victoria. Nine previous group I winners were part of the 13-horse field. Rarely had a gathering of quality horseflesh been seen in the one race.
Champion 4-year-old mare Miss Finland (Redoute’s Choice--Forest Pearl), already the winner of five group I races, flew home to grab the lead from Haradasun (Fusaichi Pegasus --Circles Of Gold) near the finish line. Tipungwuti, also by Fusaichi Pegasus, was third.
The victory was Miss Finland’s 11th in 18 starts, and she now has earned Aust$4,240,000. “She’s a champion no doubt now,” said her part-owner, John Messara, who is keen to get the horse to race in the United States next year.