First spring raiders just four weeks away

A handful of international gallopers will be able to compete in Melbourne from as early as the first Group 1 race of the new season on August 31 after Racing Victoria confirmed the first wave of European raiders will arrive in Melbourne in mid-August.

Space at the industry's Werribee quarantine centre will again be scarce this spring, as was the case last year when a number of horses had to be relocated to a lesser-equipped government facility, but RV is hopeful an earlier flight could ease congestion this time around.

"Subject to any late changes, we are planning for around half a dozen imports, headlined by the German Derby runner-up Django Freeman and high-priced acquisition New King, to arrive here in Melbourne on 17 August," said Paul Bloodworth, RV's General Manager - International and Racing Operations.

"We advised local trainers and owners in March that we were prepared to open the Werribee International Horse Centre for two weeks in August if there was sufficient interest.

"This new opportunity assists local trainers to get race-fit imports into their stable six weeks earlier than normal, thus allowing them to compete from the start of the Spring Racing Carnival at Caulfield on 31 August (Memsie Stakes Day)."

Bloodworth said the early flight had many benefits.

"Such is the interest in the Spring Racing Carnival that places at Werribee have been at a premium in recent years and we have had to deny some horses a berth," he explained.

"This initiative allows us to provide greater surety to both local and international connections around access to Werribee so they can plan accordingly.

"We also see a benefit in spreading the arrival of horses from the Northern Hemisphere to allow us to better manage usage of the course proper, which will assist it to remain in a great condition throughout spring."

Caulfield may host the first of the 2019 international spring contenders, picture