Two Japanese stallions destined for Australia and New Zealand this year have been stranded in their home country and will not be standing in the southern hemisphere this year in the latest fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic. Victoria’s Chatswood Stud was set to stand record-breaking dual Grade 1 winner Al Ain for the first time this year while another son of Japan’s champion stallion, Deep Impact, in Satono Aladdin was to return to New Zealand’s Rich Hill Stud for his third season but the Covid-19 crisis has ended those plans. The current situation could stop horses from Japan potentially targeting the Melbourne spring carnival.

International Racehorse Transport’s Chris Burke yesterday confirmed that Japanese air authorities did not permit grooms to be on the cargo planes with the horses that would have allowed them to fly to Australia.

“There’s currently no direct flights that we can get the horses down here on due to the restrictions on grooms travelling out of Japan,” Burke said. “Some of the airlines have put mitigation measures in place, so it does allow staff to travel, but unfortunately the airline service out of Japan hasn’t got any of those in place, so that’s what’s caused it. “The cargo aircraft that leave from Japan on an acceptable route for quarantine here are currently not taking any other people other than airline-employed flight crew.”

Chatswood Stud’s Nic Willis was dejected yesterday after learning that Al Ain, an unbeaten juvenile in Japan who claimed the Satsuki Sho (Gr 1, 2000m) in record time, would not be able to shuttle. “It’s very disappointing and we’re very flat about it given how well received he’d been,” Willis said.

“We would have done very well out of him as we’d had quite a few mares and new clients who hadn’t booked with us before, so we were very excited. “We’d been working on the deal from January until last month when the announcement was made. It was all I’d been thinking about.”

Chatswood Stud had secured Al Ain to stand alongside Reward For Effort (Exceed And Excel) and Inference (So You Think) this year. “We will readdress next year and aim to get him back,” Willis said. “The owners in Japan were very happy with us. We were keeping them up to date with the bookings and what mares he’d attracted. It’s pretty tough.”