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Japanese horses on track for Melbourne Cup

August 22, 2007

The two Japanese horses that dominated last year's running of the Melbourne Cup have passed their first hurdle in returning to Australia to defend the Crown: they have tested clear of equine influenza.

Japanese racing authorities are working to contain an outbreak of the disease, which has forced a cancellation of racing.

The 2006 Cup winner Delta Blues and runner-up Pop Rock have been stabled at a private facility on the island of Hokkaido about two hours by air from the source of the outbreak.

The stable where they are held has to be disease-free for three months before the horses would be permitted to enter Australia.

Other horses in the stable have also tested free of the disease.

However, equine influenza is highly contagious and the path of the current outbreak will play a play in major part in the decision by Australian quarantine authorities as to whether the horses will be allowed into Australia.

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