Mikel Delzangles’ Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden is preparing for an assault on the Hong Kong International Race Day this Sunday at Sha Tin, the French-trained star looking to add the 2011 Hong Kong Vase to their improving international race record.
Having travelled from Victoria where the Nicobar six-year-old emulated fellow French raider Americain from 12 months ago in winning the Geelong Cup – Melbourne Cup double, Dunaden arrived in Hong Kong late last month and will today have their first serious piece of work on the Sha Tin turf track.
A winner of eight of their 28 career starts to date for an incredible $4.3 million in prize money, the impressive sum thanks to their victory in the world’s richest handicap, this spring was the galloper’s first overseas campaign.
After such great success in Australia, connections made the decision to press onto the riches of Hong Kong with the HK$14 million Group 1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) firmly in their sights.
The Hong Kong Vase 2011 is also the next-up target for Ed Dunlop’s English stayer Red Cadeaux, last seen going down by the narrowest of margins to Dunaden in the Melbourne Cup on November 1.
All reports from Hong Kong are that Dunaden has settled well since arriving and is in good condition ahead of the highly-spruiked Melbourne Cup rematch.
“He settled well here and has the advantage of being in Hong Kong for a good week as he came straight from Australia,” Aymeric Candas, traveling representative for Delzangles, said.
“Everything’s going to plan so far.”
It is similar optimism coming from the connections of Cadeaux Genereux gelding Red Cadeaux who, before their Melbourne Cup second, ran an eye-catching third in the Group 1 Irish St Leger (2816m) at The Curragh in September.
“Everything has gone fine since Melbourne and he’s at his racing weight,” Red Cadeaux’ handler Robin Trevor-Jones said.
“He has just been tootling along, but we’ll probably give him a blow on Wednesday or Thursday.
“That will be decided when the boss (Dunlop) arrives.”
While the two horses that ran the Melbourne Cup quinella are of obvious interest to Australian punters especially this weekend, the duo face a tough test on Sunday facing some of the hottest Hong Kong stayers including the Caspar Fownes-trained Thumbs Up.
Thumbs Up comes off a win in the Group 2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin, which is one of the traditional Vase lead-ups.
There is also another French raider on the radar with quality mare Sarah Lynx, winner of the Canadian International (2400m) in October, another early favourite in the Hong Kong Vase odds despite her recent Japan Cup failure.
The Hong Kong International Races make up one of the world’s most iconic meetings, with four elite level features offering a cumulative HK$68 million in prize money.
Final fields for the day’s features are due for release this Thursday, with Races.com.au to publish the fields.
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