This year’s Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden has drawn barrier three for the 2011 Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin this Sunday, a gate that trainer Mikel Delzanges was only half-pleased with having hoped for a midfield draw, but one that has seen them firm into clear favourite to win.
The in-form French raider, coming off the closest Melbourne Cup win in the race’s 151-year history having held off Red Cadeaux by less than a nostril flare back on November 1, will take on a crack field of stayers in the HK$14 million Group 1 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase (2400m) looking to post back-to-back elite levels.
“Maybe he would be better drawn a little bit wider,” Delzangles admitted.
“But if there isn’t much pace, he will be able to take a good spot.”
A field of 13 has been accepted, Dunaden now rated the $5.50 favourite in Hong Kong Vase odds at Australian bookmakers despite concerns about them coming back from the testing two-miles (3200m) of the Melbourne Cup to 2400 metres for the Vase.
It is a distance, however, that the Nicobar six-year-old has won over before most recently in their Australian debut when taking out the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) in October.
They also took out successive races over 2413 metres in France last year, and posted numerous second place finishes over the distance throughout their career.
“He’s freshened up nicely since Melbourne, I think his work has been very encouraging,” Delzangles said.
“I think he’s just as well and happy as he was in Melbourne, so I am very hopeful.”
Having emulated fellow French-trained champion Americain in Australia, the horse that won the 2010 Geelong Cup – Melbourne Cup double, Delzangles is praying they don’t follow the next form line set up by the galloper.
After scoring last year’s Melbourne Cup Americain travelled to Hong Kong for the International Vase but could only finish three lengths away third to Mastery, still a brave effort after such a testing campaign.
“Every race is different, every horse is different,” Delzangles said.
“I think we are here with a very good chance and I’m sure the horse will run well.”
Adding more interest for Aussie punters, Dunaden will re-partner with ace Aussie hoop Craig Williams for the Vase.
Three other Hong Kong Vase hopefuls are at single figures in the latest markets with the Casper Fownes-trained local champ Thumps Up ($7) looking to complete the Jockey Club Cup – Hong Kong Vase double, Canadian International winning French-trained mare Sarah Lynx ($7) and Alain de Royer Dupre’s impressive young colt Vadamar ($8) last seen winning a Group 2 race over 2413 metres in France in mid-October.
Meanwhile Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux will get their chance to turn the tables on Dunaden when they line-up in barrier seven in the Hong Kong Vase on Sunday.
Rated a $10 chance in the Vase markets, Ed Dunlop’s Irish St Leger third placegetter may not be attracting the same fanfare as their Melbourne Cup conqueror, but connections are confident they can challenge again.
“He’s come here in very good order and with the form to say he’ll run very well,” Dunlop said.
“If Dunaden is a chance as people seem to think, then our horse has to be in with a good show also.”
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2011 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase Field & Barriers
Sha Tin Race 4 – 2:00pm (local time) – 11/12/2011
|1||TRAILBLAZER||126||Y Ikee||K Ando||8|
|2||JAKKALBERRY||126||M Botti||F Branca||13|
|3||SILVER POND||126||F Head||T Jarnet||2|
|4||CAMPANOLOGIST||126||S bin Suroor||L Dettori||6|
|5||DUNADEN||126||M Delzangles||C Williams||3|
|6||MIGHTY HIGH||126||J Moore||D Beadman||11|
|7||MR MEDICI||126||L Ho||G Mosse||5|
|8||REDWOOD||126||C Hills||M Hills||12|
|9||THUMBS UP||126||C Fownes||B Prebble||1|
|10||RED CADEAUX||126||E A L Dunlop||R Moore||7|
|11||SUPER SATIN||126||C Fownes||O Doleuze||9|
|12||SARAH LYNX||122||J E Hammond||C Soumillon||4|
|13||VADAMAR||121||de Royer-Dupre||C Lemaire||10|