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Breaking new ground going down under

Think of the violin playing sorrowfully in the background. Think of the trials and tribulations of trying to figure out how many suits I'll need, and have I the right tie to go with the right shirt that goes with the right suit.

Think of trying to squeeze the said suits, shirts, ties and the all the rest that goes with it into a not so aptly sized suitcase.

Think of a day hauling the said luggage, plane hopping and getting used to the time-difference and the different currency.

Think of feeling sorry for me ... Now think of the sarcasm.

It's a tough job, but someone has got to do it, and while you are picking up your Herald today, I'll be in the midst of winging my way across the world to set up base in Melbourne for the next fortnight or so to cover the 'Race That Stops A Nation' – the Melbourne Cup.

Don't get me wrong, the above opening paragraphs were very stressful indeed, not to mention when I had to call in the lovely Mary from Newbridge Travel to sort out a last-minute visa, but I suppose they are the lengths one must go to in order to cover one of the biggest horse races on the planet.

It's certainly a different proposition than the Cheltenham Festival, the Aintree Grand National, race week in Galway or the Punchestown Festival. It's sure to be a lot different than the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe as well.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I'll tell you how different and if you want to know how Melbourne compares to the Breeders' Cup or Dubai World Cup, make sure and send an email to my editor!

The Melbourne Cup is undoubtedly set to be worlds apart, in so many ways, than anything I have ever covered so far, though, and it's a great privilege to be able to do it.

What do I expect? Well, I expect to see a race that stops a nation, a nation that is proud of its sport-mad tradition and for an event involving 24 thoroughbreds running over two miles to have such an effect on a country approximately seven times more populated than ours is quite something.

It is a race with massive history and a large portion of that history is credited to our very own Dermot Weld (pictured). I can only imagine what it would have been like to be Irish and in Melbourne when either Vintage Crop or Media Puzzle showed them how it was done.

It's 20 years since Vintage Crop, it's nine since Media Puzzle and will I be lucky enough to find out what it's like to be Irish and in Melbourne for an Irish-trained winner ... well, it's quite possible.

As I board the plane, Willie Mullins' Simenon needs seven horses above him to come out to be sure of a run. By the time I land that could be different again as one of the trial winners is due to be given a penalty.

Hopes are that Simenon will get a run, but it will be an anxious wait. Either way, I look forward to catching up with the Simenon team Down Under, with Emmett Mullins and Jack Madden in charge of his well-being.

By the time I get back, the Breeders' Cup will have been and gone, with Joseph O'Brien looking to create more history. Chances are Johnny Murtagh will have ridden another big race winner somewhere. The apprentice title in Ireland will have been won by either Connor King or Colin Keane. And the first Grade One over jumps of the season will have been run in Ireland and we may be more the wiser whether or not Sizing Europe will get the Gold Cup trip or not.

I'm fascinated to see what the next couple of weeks have in store. Talk to you from the other side.


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