Dan Excel plan to be blueprint for future Australian forays
John Moore wants to run his horse in the WS Cox Plate and believes using his brother's stables in Sydney can be a viable option for regular visits
Singapore Airlines International Cup hero Dan Excel has been confirmed for an attempt on the WS Cox Plate later this year - and trainer John Moore hopes it will provide a model for more frequent assaults on Australia's top races.
Thorny issues with quarantine, timing and also staffing problems are reasons most Hong Kong trainers abandon ideas of going to Australia; Moore himself has thrown out plans in the past to run Viva Pataca and Military Attack in the Cox Plate.
With the Hong Kong season starting in September, there are virtually no races to get the peak fitness required for a major event like a Cox Plate in October.
Moore and owner David Boehm have thus produced a blueprint for this year's attack, which might have implications for other trainers here - and one of the key events was Thursday's granting of stables to Moore's brother, Gary, at Rosehill racecourse in Sydney.
Gary trained at Randwick in the 1990s, has been top Macau trainer for some years, and returns to Sydney in August, where his yard could become a convenient way station for any horse campaigning in Australia.
"We are just thinking about Dan Excel specifically and we still need to talk with the Jockey Club about the logistics of it all," Moore said yesterday. "But what we are thinking is to ship Dan Excel to Australia in a couple of weeks, do his quarantine, then he'll have a short break at David's Muskoka Farm property outside Sydney.
"Unfortunately, Muskoka is a quarantine station for export but for not import purposes, so Dan Excel will have to do the quarantine somewhere else, then he'll have a short rest at Muskoka.
"After, he'll have three weeks of pre-training and go into Gary's stables at Rosehill to be trained, but still under my name, of course."
That would be better than the usual situation in taking horses to Australia, where Moore has had to use another trainer's yard but also send his own staff.
"Staffing is very tight at Sha Tin for all trainers. It's very difficult to spare anyone, so that would be overcome by having Gary's staff looking after the horse there," Moore said.
"This way we get the horse into the country much earlier, he can get his quarantine done, acclimatise to the different time and environment and be properly prepared, which they need to be for races like the Cox Plate. After that, Dan Excel would come back here for the internationals [in December]."
There are many hurdles still to be considered but, in the bigger picture, Moore envisages a situation similar to top trainer Mike de Kock's in Dubai, where he oversees top-class South African horses from other yards.
Due to tough quarantine regulations, South African horses have an arduous journey involving many months of travel and quarantine sequestration in Mauritus and England before they even get to Dubai.
Once that journey is over, many trainers "park" horses with De Kock to race at the Dubai carnival, where he has had great success with them - including recent Godolphin Mile and Champions Mile winner Variety Club - under their South African trainers' names.
"It's just a concept we'd like to work towards and there's a lot to think about and a lot to talk about with the Jockey Club if it were to become reality," Moore said.
"But with Gary having stables in Sydney, and he'll be able to get a satellite operation in Melbourne too, we're thinking there could be a clear path with the timing and logistics worked out - and it could be used not only by me but any trainer here who wants to run a horse in Australia."