It doesn't surprise owner Don Frampton that New Zealand will have no representative in Tuesday's Emirates Melbourne Cup after Booming tripped at the last hurdle yesterday – he says our facilities and racing schedule just aren't up to scratch.
The Booming camp got down to Plan C, putting up with one setback after another, before finally pulling the pin on Flemington's $A6 million feature when the horse simply failed to fire a shot in yesterday's Lexus Stakes.
And Frampton, who races the stayer with Kevin Algie's GKV Holdings, is in no doubt why New Zealand has no cup runners for the first time in years.
Booming, who had qualified for the cup, was on the back foot right from the start of his campaign, victim of the wet weather and cancelled trials.
And while he knows controlling mother nature is impossible, he says we should have facilities in the north, central districts and south that trainers can rely on for trialling horses.
"If a club innocently cancels a trial meeting it can have huge ramifications on your horse's preparation. And then if you miss two trials in a row it's devastating."
Plan A to tackle the Geelong Cup had to be ditched, because he was not ready for a hard run, and Plan B to run in the Moonee Valley Cup was foiled by an infection, which saw his leg blow up and need treatment with antibiotics.
The Lexus was a far from desirable Plan C, because Booming has always raced best when he's had weeks between his races, not three days, and the camp did not know how much of a toll the antibiotics had taken on the horse.
Asked if his experience with Booming would sway him into taking his horses to Australia earlier to ensure they qualified and were fit, Frampton was blunt.
"What it's done is made me think more about having horses trained in Australia instead, because you can't trust the facilities in New Zealand."
New Zealand also lacked a vibrant racing programme, with suitable lead-up and qualifying races, that enabled trainers and owners to prepare horses at home.
Frampton said thoroughbred racing officials here did not support staying races like they should and he was horrified that the Graded Stakes Committee had played round with the status of the Wellington Cup, which eventually was reduced to 2400 metres.
Frampton said trainers in Australia had echoed his sentiments when questioned why Australia had so few home-grown cup runners this year – the distance of staying features like the Brisbane Cup and Perth Cup had also been cut.
- Sunday Star Times