Ten weeks ago, racehorse Red Verdon began a journey to the other side of the world to compete in the famous Melbourne Cup. But what set out as a fairly routine trip for the Ed Dunlop-trained five-year-old turned into a luckless adventure, with a string of misfortunes befalling the chestnut and his devoted lad Robin Trevor-Jones, the trainer’s assistant.
The saga began in September, when Red Verdon joined 18 other horses on a flight to Australia. Mid-route from London, the cargo plane sustained a cracked windscreen, which meant a significant delay at Sharjah airport in the UAE. The horses were stranded on the tarmac for some 14 hours while the problem was sorted.
After the planeload of equines finally reached Australia, Red Verdon was entered in the Caulfield Cup as a prep run for the big race. The Group One race is always a tactical affair due to the track’s undulations and sharp turns, and with 18 horses going to post, jockeys were jostling for position in a slowly run race. Red Verdon’s rider Zac Purton effectively found himself blocked in two furlongs from home and never managed to challenge, finishing 11th.
Red Verdon’s next target was the Melbourne Cup at the start of November, but a hoof abscess flared up just before the Flemington race.
“It was unfortunate and just bad timing,” said travelling head lad Robin Trevor-Jones. “The abscess took its time to burst. We trotted him up after his gallop, on the Saturday before the Cup, and he was OK but not 100 per cent.
“We then jogged him up around 3.30 in the afternoon and he felt OK but we still had to be concerned about what sort of race he’d run. So, the decision was made to pull the plug and give his foot every chance to get over it.”
Instead, Robin and Red Verdon have now made the comparatively short hop from Australia to Hong Kong where trainer Ed Dunlop hopes his charge will have better luck racing in the hugely valuable Longines Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin racecourse this Sunday (9 December).
“It was a frustrating time in Melbourne but we’re through that now and ready for another chapter,” said Robin. “You could say, at least, that he’s a fresh horse on the scene for this race and hopefully he can run well. But to be realistic, it does look quite a good Vase his year.”
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“He’s taking it all in here. We took him to the paddock on Thursday and Friday last week and that woke him up a bit and he’s done really well over the weekend.
“His foot is good and he coped really well with the travel here. It’s only eight or nine hours from Australia, which is nothing compared to Newmarket to Melbourne with a cracked windscreen,” he said.
They say bad luck comes in threes so finally, after two months away from home and more than 20,000 miles in the air, perhaps Lady Luck will now return to give Red Verdon the victory he must surely deserve.
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