International raiders fail to flatter but RV scout looks on the bright side

"It's a learning experience.": Recruiter Leigh Jordon. Photo: Supplied
"It's a learning experience.": Recruiter Leigh Jordon. Photo: Supplied

It wasn't quite the result that Racing Victoria's international recruiter Leigh Jordon was after, but it wasn't a complete disaster either.

Side Glance's effort in running sixth in the Cox Plate for Andrew Balding and Sheikh Fahad Al-Thani's Qatar Racing operation was a decent enough performance and, Jordon says, enough to encourage owners of horses with similar, or better, ability that it might be worth coming Down Under.

Mull Of Killough, trained by expatriate Australian Jane Chapple-Hyam, fared less well. He was back in 11th place, beaten 7.7 lengths by brilliant colt Shamus Award.

Both horses came into the race with an international rating of 115 - on a par with locally raced candidates such as third-placed Fiorente, Puissance De Lune, Seville and the other three-year-old, Long John. It was less than the ratings of market leader It's A Dundeel, Happy Trails, Foreteller and Super Cool, the last three of which ran second, fourth and fifth respectively.

While Side Glance, which was slowly away, rallied well for Craig Williams and was beaten four lengths, Mull Of Killough, partnered by Steven Arnold, made little progress, and the jockey said he kept getting shuffled back. Williams said Side Glance ran a great race in the circumstances.

The Moonee Valley Racing Club, which paid all the expenses for the two international candidates, is in an unenviable position in trying to lure foreign challengers for the Cox Plate. The type of high-class weight-for-age 2000-metre horses they are pursuing have a host of options in Britain (on Champions Day) and in the US, at the Breeders' Cup, at this time of year. Both, as a rule, are more tempting targets for the top-flight gallopers for a host of reasons, including their status and the fact that they are either on their doorstep or within relatively easy travelling reach.

Still, the participation of Side Glance and Mull Of Killough did add something to the race's interest this year, and will provide the club with an indication of the sort of horse it might now look to tempt to Australia. Neither of those two had won at group 1 level (although Side Glance had been placed), and the club might want to think about whether it makes its generous all-expenses offers to genuine group 1 horses only and is more selective about those it invites.

Jordon is hopeful that Side Glance and Mull Of Killough will back up, with races like the group 1 Mackinnon at weight-for-age over 2000m and the 1600m group 1 Emirates Stakes (a handicap) at Flemington on the agenda. ''It's a learning experience, and every time there is a foreign runner everyone knows a bit more about what is required,'' Jordon said.

This story International raiders fail to flatter but RV scout looks on the bright side first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.