After six months, 33,620 kilometres and a lot of money, the 2010 Melbourne Cup winner Americain is back in his favourite place on the planet – Werribee.
A vastly experienced traveller, Americain who has also lived and raced in France, the United States and Hong Kong, is so fond of the outer Melbourne suburb that his Australian owners exported him so that they could re-import him.
“It is incredible, he is so happy here,” said his regular companion and groom Stephanie Nigge.
“It is now three times that he’s been here and every time he improves.
“You can see it, he is eating and drinking and putting on weight.”
Last year he finished fourth to fellow French traveller Dunaden at Flemington and this year he will tackle the Caulfield Cup ahead of the Melbourne Cup.
After his 2011 campaign, Americain’s Australian owners decided to keep the horse in Victoria, sending him to David Hayes’ training base at Euroa.
The horse fared well enough, finishing second in the BMW at Rosehill last autumn and sixth in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick.
Knowing how their horse thrived at Werribee, his owners sought permission to return him there to prepare for this year’s Cup.
But regulations don’t allow local horses to enter quarantine, so American was sent back to France specifically so he could be returned to Australia as an import and be prepared for the Cup at Werribee.
“It is a lot of travelling, but he had a summer in Europe as well,” Nigge said.
“And again he is so happy, I have never seen a horse improve like he does when he comes here to Werribee.”
Americain’s affection for the suburb renowned for its colonial mansion and a sewerage farm, is matched by his devotion to Nigge.
After he finishes his morning exercise, American, an eight-year-old stallion, follows her around the quarantine compound like a puppy as she does her daily chores.
“Yes, we are very close,” she said.
“But I have to give him some discipline to make him very fit.
“He knows if I am not happy with him because I speak to him in German.
“Before, if he is good, I speak to him in French.
“But he is so long in Australia, I am also speaking English to him.”
Americain has been joined on this trip by stablemate Shahwardi who runs in Saturday’s Group Two Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) in an attempt to gain a Melbourne Cup start.
Race rider Kerrin McEvoy travelled from Sydney on Monday morning to partner Shahwardi in a gallop he described as “pleasing”.
He will be accompanied to Caulfield by Americain who will have a gallop in between races that Nigge hopes will knock a few kilos off him.
“American, he is too big, he should lose 10 kilograms,” she said.
If not, perhaps a threat to be sent back to Euroa might be in order, in German.