Ace Australian hoop Craig Williams is excited to get back in the saddle of French stayer Dunaden, tipping this year’s Melbourne Cup hero as the horse to beat in Sunday’s Hong Kong Vase 2011 at Sha Tin.
Williams missed the winning Melbourne Cup ride, and the chance to become the first jockey to secure the spring carnival triple grand slam in a single season, due to suspension but will get their chance to atone having been booked to ride the Mikel Delzangles-trained six-year-old in the HK$14 million Group 1 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase (2400m) this weekend.
The masterful jockey was full of praise for Dunaden after putting them through their paces on the turf at Sha Tin on Tuesday, Williams confident the son of Nicobar can win their Hong Kong debut which would be the duo’s second triumph following the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) back in Victoria on October 19.
“I’m really happy with the way he travelled over from Melbourne,” Williams said.
“He’s actually fresher than he was in Melbourne.
“Looking at him, he’s put on weight and just the feel he gave me in trackwork tells me he’s right to go on Sunday.
“Ne nearly unseated me in his warm-up lap, he’s just so fresh and just so well within himself.”
Dunaden is one of three Hong Kong Vase entries currently sharing $7 favouritisim in the markets along with French mare Sarah Lynx who won the Canadian International back in October and Caspar Fowne’s local hero Thumbs Up coming via a victory in the Group 2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m) but seeing the 2400 metres for the first time in the Vase.
Other to fancies include the Alain de Royer Dupre-trained colt Vadamar and this year’s devastatingly close Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux from the English stables of Ed Dunlop.
Just trailing Red Cadeaux, the horse with a point to prove after the Melbourne Cup, in the Hong Kong Vase odds is the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Campanologist who is looking to hand the infamous Godolphin racing operation back-to-back wins in the Vase following the victory of Mastery 12 months ago.
Winner of numerous elite levels around Europe, Kingmambo stallion Campanologist has been declared by Bin Suroor as being in near career best form ahead of Sunday’s Vase.
“Campanologist is a stronger horse than before and this is his time of year,” he said.
“He is very healthy and sound and this is his best trip.
“You need a very good horse to win this race.
“Last year Mastery showed that he had the class to win it for us last year and this one is very good also.”
The official 2011 Hong Kong Vase field and barriers are due for release tomorrow.
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