Trainer Gai Waterhouse. Picture: AAP
Trainer Gai Waterhouse. Picture: AAP

Gai banks on Japanese staying power for Cup start

GAI Waterhouse had already begun stocking her stable with Japanese-bred horses long before this year's Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate victories set local tongues wagging.

But peers of the 135-time Group 1 winner, while full of praise for the serious talent Japan continues to produce, aren't as bullish about a spring carnival takeover, confident their own horses can still contend.

The Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Hush Writer, which could get in to the Melbourne Cup with victory in the Hotham Handicap (2600m) on Saturday and Wolfe, which ran 13th in the Caulfield Cup, both have Japanese bloodlines.

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"We bought five stayers in Japan … they are better stayers than anywhere in the world, and we're just catching on," Waterhouse said at Flemington on Tuesday.

"From the minute they are born they are put in to work and they never stop. Then when you buy them and they go in to training, they work every day. After the Cox Plate, that horse, by the time it got back in, it wasn't even blowing. They are that fit."

But trainer Chris Waller, who won four Cox Plates in a row with Winx and trained a record four Group 1 winners on a single day on October 5, wasn't convinced the Japanese training methods were superior.

"Our training methods weren't bad the last four or five years," he said. "I don't think we need to panic.

Japanese star Lys Gracieux was a class above her rivals in the Cox Plate. Picture: AAP
Japanese star Lys Gracieux was a class above her rivals in the Cox Plate. Picture: AAP

"It's great to have the Japanese horses here, we all have so much respect for them. But it's interesting to see how quickly people turn their attention for the sake of a couple of wins.

"The Japanese horses have always been very good and it's an international flavour and that's what we want. If the Australians just dominate, they'll stop coming.

"If there is a short fall in terms of ability here in Australia we will quickly change that. But I don't see that at the moment."

David Hayes, who trains Melbourne Cup favourite Constantinople, said the Japanese horses were having a "good run" at the moment. "But that changes," he said.

Danny O'Brien, who is leading the local charge in the Cup with Vow And Declare, said while winning had become more of a challenge against the international contingent, the record of Australian trainers stood for something.

"Statistically things always revert to the mean eventually," he said. "When everyone is saying it's got to be an international, up will pop something that defies the general consensus."

Waterhouse said the internationals were "here to stay" but there needed to be more qualifying races for local horses to ensure there was a greater representation of Australian runners in the Melbourne Cup.