Melbourne Cup 2018: waning local participation opens door to foreign raiders | Michael Hutak

The Cup’s international status has grown this century and 11 of the 24 runners this year are trained in the northern hemisphere

A roll call of racing’s global elite and a bevy of exceptional thoroughbred talent will collect on Tuesday to cap a vintage year with the 158th running of the $7.3m Melbourne Cup. After another winter of discontent, spring has sprung in all its glory, supercharged again by wonder mare Winx, and so a skittish nation turns its eyes and smartphones to Flemington. While “community attitudes” to horse racing are polarising in the social media era, Cup Day, a public holiday in Victoria since 1873, still signals party time in Australia, an end of year imperative to down tools, gather in groups, overindulge, and “get on the punt” in the best antipodean tradition.

We are reminded each November that this is “the race that stops the nation” – but this tiring 20th century tagline now fails to capture the Cup’s growing international status this century – and its waning local participation. Eleven of the 24 runners this year are trained in the northern hemisphere and the foreign raiders have already won a swag of key Cup lead-up races this spring, including race favourite Yucatan’s jaw dropping Herbert Power win, and that of Godolphin’s Best Solution in the Caulfield Cup, the race that is still statistically the best guide to the big one in the new millennium.

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