The talk has been going on for some time, but it usually is reserved for after the running of the Melbourne Cup, when post-mortems for The Race That Stops a Nation are delivered by those who lament the foreign raiders who come down under to plunder Aussie riches.
It is not so much the winning by the imports that seems to be at the heart of the issue.
Rather, it is the extreme difficulty punters encounter when they try to make a selection against a backdrop of unfamiliar foreign formlines, with no local basis for comparison.
It is already a difficult race to handicap. Staying races seem to be becoming more of an endangered species with each passing season and the large field further complicates the issue.
Punters often have little in the way of form to guide them, whether the horse is local or from overseas.
Then, there is The Everest factor to consider. With approximately double the prizemoney of the Melbourne Cup, the reduction in status from richest race in Australia to second richest has done nothing to shore up the Melbourne Cup as The Race, one that is followed by those who otherwise would not know a Thoroughbred from a trotter.
Some point to the outsized dominance of Lloyd Williams. That breeder’s horses have won the last two Melbourne Cups with Almandin in 2016 and Rekindling in 2017. Williams also won in 2012 with Green Moon and Efficient in 2007.
It is doubtful that most punters, or most casual observers for that matter, care much about the owners of a horse and Williams can Harley be blamed for trying, yet his Melbourne Cup dominance is nowhere near the degree of that Chris Waller is exerting in NSW racing.
Calls for the Melbourne Cup to be restricted to locals, not necessarily those bred in Australia, but those who race here and have local connections have gone unheeded, as international horses improve the field and quality of the race in much the same way a visit by Winx for England’s Royal Ascot carnival would enliven the proceedings there.