Connections of reigning Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden are leaning towards keeping the French stallion at home for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris this October instead of giving them their chance to defend their title in the Melbourne Cup 2012 at Flemington the following month.
The Mikel Delzangles-trained Nicobar six-year-old was the most talked about horse on the planet last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival when they travelled down under and won the Geelong Cup – Melbourne Cup double the way fellow French stayer Americain did 12 months previously.
After scoring the narrowest Melbourne Cup victory in the race’s 151-year history Dunaden then travelled to Sha Tin and took out the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) in December.
They have failed to post a win since.
This time in Dunaden ran two third place finishes before their second to Sea Moon in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes (2414m) at Royal Ascot on June 23, the same day superstar Aussie sprinter Black Caviar won the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
Twenty-eight days later Dunaden ran again this time finishing a disappointing sixth to Danedream in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2414m) prompting connections to look carefully at where to next.
Originally there was an indication that if Dunaden failed to win their latest start, therefore avoiding a likely increased penalty from the Racing Victoria handicappers, they would return to Oz and shoot for another win in the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on Tuesday November 6, 2012.
It seems as though the 2012 Melbourne Cup has since been taken off the cards for Dunaden next prep however with the champ more likely to stay on in their native France targeting the prestigious Group 1 Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) at Longchamp Racecourse on October 7.
“There’s no definite decision yet as I haven’t had chance to speak to (owner) Sheikh Fahad but my inclination would be to stick to the original target,” Sheikh Fahad’s racing manager David Redvers said.
“We didn’t learn a great deal (in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes).
“Dunaden had no cover at all and was in front a long way out, which made him the rabbit for the others to aim at.
“He loves to come from behind and pass horses so it was a bit of a farce.
“My feeling is to stick to the original plan of the Arc and he’ll probably run in the Prix Foy beforehand.”
Sheikh Fahad’s Pearl Bloodstock operation was also considering the Melbourne Cup 2012 for the former Alain de Royer Dupre-trained Dalakhani stallion Vadamar.
The four-year-old grey, last seen running second to Tac De Boistron in the Group 2 Prix Maurice de Nieuil (2800m) at Longchamp on July 14, however is now more likely to be saved for the 2013 Melbourne Cup.
“My suspicion is he’s going to be a Cup horse for next year, not this year,” Redvers said.
“I can’t stress enough how important the Melbourne Cup is to Sheikh Fahad and to all of us, it is the absolute pinnacle, so it might be that we decide we’ll give it a tilt this year.
“But, again, I suspect we probably will miss and we will probably try and construct his career and his program around coming out and winning it next year.”
Dunaden remains the co $19 favourite with Japanese star Orfevre in the latest Melbourne Cup odds at bookmaker.com.au.
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