For every gem like Zaaki there’s a Southern France.

Off the back of Zaaki demolishing the rest of the Doomben Cup field in just his fourth Australian start, On the Drift is taking a look at European imports who have thrived in Australia and others who have flopped.

For context, we are only looking at horses who’ve had decent careers in Australia after starting out in Europe, not just a couple of races.

With every success story like the Neasham trained gelding, there’s a multitude of other European runners that don’t quite live up to expectations – absolutely crushing the dreams of connections and punters in the process.

The Doomben Cup encapsulated this perfectly.

When the field was announced Zaaki was the deserved favourite after a dominant victory on the Gold Coast in the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes.

However, on the other end of the spectrum was a horse who opened at long odds of $100.

That roughie was Southern France, who to the surprise of absolutely nobody, was eventually scratched.

The Maher & Eustace trained stayer was once touted as a red hot chance in the 2019 Melbourne Cup after placing in the Group 1 St Leger but failed to fire a shot.

His form since then is not pretty reading with a lone victory in the Group 2 Zipping Stakes in 2019.

He hasn’t finished higher than 7th since then.

Before we dive into some other duds, let’s take a look at some of the best European horses who made Australia home.



Career: 58: 13-14-9

A real punters’ horse, Hartnell was a tough and consistent galloper amassing over $7million in prize money across his grand career.

Before being purchased by Godolphin in Australia, Hartnell had already won the Group 2 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot. Certainly no slouch.

He went on to win ten black type races, four being Group 1’s. If it wasn’t for mighty mare Winx (the GOAT) he could have had more, being a bridesmaid to her on four occasions. Certainly no shame in that.

His 2018 last-gasp victory in the Epsom Handicap also broke the track record at 1600m at Randwick.

Well done if you had him that day – he jumped at $20!


Career 20: 6-4-2

After great success as a three-year-old in the UK in multiple Group level races, Fiorente was purchased by the first lady of Australian racing Gai Waterhouse with an eye on the Melbourne Cup.

That plan almost came to fruition with a close second to fellow European Green Moon in 2012.

After finishing third in the Cox Plate the next year, Fiorente went one better to give Waterhouse her first Melbourne Cup victory.

Another Group 1 victory in the Australia Cup in 2014 cemented Fiorente’s status as an elite stallion prospect.

He now stands at Sun Stud in Victoria with a stud fee of $17,600.

Sir Dragonet

Career: 16: 4-4-1

Despite his poor performance on the weekend, we thought it would be worth putting the reigning Cox Plate winner on the list. The Cox Plate is arguably Australia’s toughest race to win after all.

After finishing the bridesmaid four times in a row in the UK, the last of which being to a fantastic horse Magical, Sir Dragonet was purchased by Ozzie Kheir and sent to train at the Maher & Eustace stables.

Labelled a non-winner, Sir Dragonet made a lot of racing pundits look silly with a dominant victory in the Cox Plate.

He’s since backed that up in the Group 1 Tancred Stakes on a dry track despite the mudlark label a lot gave to him.



Career: 16: 2-4-1

After a promising start to his career in the United Kingdom, Constantinople was brought over to our shores seeking greater riches.

Things started swimmingly for the Dabernig & Hayes trained gelding when he finished 4th in the 2019 Caulfield Cup behind some cracking gallopers.

An Aussie debut full of hope. Surely brighter things to come? Nah.

Starting at a relatively short $9 in the Melbourne Cup, Constantinople ran on for a solid…13th.

And unfortunately it doesn’t get any better. After his run in the Melbourne Cup he had seven starts, finishing last on several occasions with the best result being a 5th in the Warrnambool Cup.

Not even the ‘ultimate gear change’ could improve the horse.

Maybe there’s still time for a turn around? Not with our money.

Ventura Storm

Career: 52: 8-4-2

The Storm! Believe it or not this old fella ran 2nd in the St Leger at Doncaster in 2016.

As you would expect he was highly fancied coming over to Australia, with the 2017 edition of the Melbourne Cup the grand finale.

He stormed home for 21st, beaten thirty lengths.

Since that fateful race he’s had more than 30 starts for just the two wins.

One of which was a maiden hurdle at Ballarat, a real turn of events for this gelding who lacks a real turn of foot.


Career: 21: 4-1-4

This good looking grey won the respected Ebor Handicap in the UK before coming south to contest the 2018 Melbourne Cup, where he started $17.

He finished 9th.

Not too bad, but now it gets ugly.

Since that race Muntahaa has had six starts for a combined losing margin of more than 80 lengths.

All in all European imports have a mixed record Down Under.

How will they perform over the Spring Carnival? Ask us at the On the Drift podcast in about 6 months time, we’ll have all the answer.

Written by Declan Jones & Dan Hutcheon

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