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Could this be the horse to stop the northern hemisphere domination in the Melbourne Cup?

Could this be the horse to stop the northern hemisphere domination in the Melbourne Cup?

The 2017 Melbourne Cup is 364 days away but a Sydney-based trainer is putting the building blocks in place to have a crack at arresting our great race from internationally-bred stayers.



Following Almandin's win at Flemington on Tuesday, the Melbourne Cup's most successful owner Lloyd Williams declared the trend of northern hemisphere-bred gallopers winning our great race will continue

"In 1990 I was on the committee of the VRC (Victoria Racing Club) and it was struggling," Williams said.

"Les Benton was there at the time and he worked very hard to internationalise the race.

"And then in 1993 Dermot Weld came and won it and that's how it started.

"People want up and running horses.

"I've bought a lot. I've bought some very bad horses and success didn't come quickly."

On Tuesday only four of the 24 runners were Australian or New Zealand-bred but Randwick trainer John Sargent has an exciting stayer under his care that he hopes can develop into one of the nation's best.

Esteban is a Kiwi-bred son of Encosta De Lago out of the Giants Causeway mare Nadege, a daughter of the 1998 Melbourne Cup runner-up Champagne.

Esteban created a huge impression during June and July when stringing four wins together, going from maiden to benchmark 82 grade, with a combined winning margin of 29-3/4 lengths.

After winning his last start by 4-3/4 lengths, Sargent elected to bypass the upcoming spring carnival, preferring to look to the future and aiming the lightly-raced gelding at the spring of 2017.

"He's back in work now and we'll keep going through our grades and hopefully a race like the Mornington Cup could be his target in the autumn next year," Sargent said.

"That race carries ballot exemption for the Caulfield Cup, it would allow us to give him a trip away and the prizemoney is great.

"I don't want to overdo it in the autumn because I think as a five-year-old next spring we'll see a pretty talented stayer."

Sargent said the manner by which Williams qualified Almandin for this year's Melbourne Cup is also another race he could look to target in the spring next year.

"I think the Bart Cummings is a race we'll see get stronger in the coming years because it carries the Melbourne Cup ballot exemption," he said. "That's a race we'll definitely be looking at in the spring next year.

"You need all the help you can get to win a race like the Melbourne Cup so you have to try to beat the handicapper. Races like the Mornington Cup and Bart Cummings give you a chance to do that.

"Only time will tell if Esteban can run two-miles but his last few wins have been in the manner of a very promising stayer. So far so good."

Bet365 has posted Esteban as a $67 chance in their before nominations market for the 2017 Melbourne Cup.


Story: By Clinton Payne