Two leading French trainers are setting their sights on Flemington Racecourse and the Melbourne Spring Carnival features including Alain de Royer-Dupre with his defending Melbourne Cup winner Americain who could also target the 2011 Cox Plate this year.
Dynaformer six-year-old Americain, winner of the 150th Emirates Melbourne Cup last November, is on track to retain his crown in the $6 million feature to run on Tuesday November 1.
Having resumed for the season with a quality first-up win in the Listed Prix De Reux (2514m), the Australian-owned Americain is preparing to have their next start in the Prix Kergorlay at Deauville next Sunday, August 21.
He will face off against a number of other Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival hopefuls including Dunaden, prepared by Royer-Dupre’s former assistant Mickael Delzangles.
Delzangles said it was “all systems go” for improving stayer Dunaden to embark on their maiden Caulfield and Melbourne Cups campaign, but that he would have a better idea of the horse’s chances after Sunday’s showdown with Americain.
“We are very serious about coming to Melbourne,” Delzangles said.
“We will know more after next weekend when we take on Americain but provided he runs well, the horse will go into quarantine on September 8 in preparation for Melbourne.”
Twelve months ago Americain won the Prix Kergorlay before travelling to Australia to take out the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2406m) and then the Melbourne Cup, and connections are hoping the galloper can win again this weekend kicking off another successful Cups crusade.
Delzangles indicated that following the Prix Kergorlay, Dunaden was also a likely 2011 Geelong Cup contender on October 19.
“It’s a worry having to take on Americain next week and perhaps again in Melbourne as he is such a good stayer but the handicap will make it harder for him (Americain) in Melbourne this year,” Delzangles said.
“At least I hope so.”
Royer-Dupre is unconcerned over impending weight penalties that await Americain this spring, saying the horse had every chance to return to Australia in better condition than last year.
“I believe it is possible,” he said.
“He’s much fresher this year, his return win at Deauville was pleasing and I’m very happy with his progress since that run.
“I suppose it would be intelligent to follow the same path as last year and run in the Geelong Cup but we might look at the Cox Plate.”
Australia’s leading online bookie Luxbet has Americain at very generous $21 odds to win the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22.
Americain has also drifted out to $15 in the latest Melbourne Cup odds.
Peter Moody’s talented mare Lights Of Heaven firmed into $11 favouritism after her eye-catching second behind now Cox Plate favourite Whobegotyou in the PB Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield last Saturday while Queensland Oaks winner Scarlett Lady is the $13 second-elect.
Meanwhile, Dunaden is rated an $81 roughie to score an upset win in the Melbourne Cup 2011.
Check out the full 2011 Melbourne Cup betting markets and odds for all the upcoming Group One showdowns this spring right now at Luxbet.