His mount may have suffered from a recent foot abscess but ace Australian jockey Craig Williams is still confident the French-trained Dunaden has a 2012 Caulfield Cup win in them this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
The ever dedicated Williams won the $2.65 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m), due to run this year on Saturday October 20, last year with top Adelaide mare Southern Speed in what was nearly an historical season for the experienced hoop.
Williams was just one win off becoming the first jockey in history to complete the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate, Melbourne Cup triple in a single season but it wasn’t to be.
After his Caulfield Cup win with Southern Speed he also partnered with last year’s Cox Plate champ Pinker Pinker but missed the ride on subsequent Melbourne Cup victor Duanden in the ‘race that stops a nation’ due to suspension.
This year he will be out for atonement seeking successive Caulfield Cup victories and a Melbourne Cup triumph with the Mikel Delzangles-trained Dunaden.
The seven-year-old Nicobar stallion, last seen running sixth in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2414m) at Royal Ascot on July 21, was one of the first international raiders to arrive in Victoria over the weekend along with 2010 Melbourne Cup winner Americain.
Duanden was seen working out at the Werribee International Horse Centre on Monday and despite earlier concern over a foot abscess, Williams is looking forward to partnering with them in a few weeks.
“This is the first time I’ve ever committed to a horse so early,” Williams said of his Caulfield Cup ride on Dunaden.
“Maybe I will regret it but you know it’s not over yet.
“He’s had the hoof problem but that’s a few weeks ago now and I’ve spoken to Mikel Delzangles and David Redvers and they don’t seem too daunted. They were happy enough to put him on the plane.
“And if he’s right I don’t think there’s any question that he could win a Caulfield Cup if he handles the track.
“And why wouldn’t he? They’re so adaptable these European horses…used to running on tracks much more varied than we have here and we’ve seen so many of them run well in the Caulfield Cup on their way to the Melbourne Cup.”
Duanden is currently rated a $19 chance to win the Caulfield Cup with bookmaker.com.au markets led by last year’s beaten favourite December Draw ($9) while in the Melbourne Cup odds they are a $15 chance equal with Americain and trailing only Mount Athos ($10) and Green Moon ($13).
Williams was also looking at a possible Caulfield Cup ride with the Lloyd Williams-owned Green Moon but his early commitment to Duanden will see him miss that mount if the Montjeu stallion goes to the mile and a half classic.
It is looking more and more likely however that Green Moon will skip the Caulfield Cup in favour of a run in the weight-for-age $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 27.
A decision on Green Moon’s major spring target will be made after they run in the $500,000 Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington this Saturday, a race Williams will be there for.
“He worked well when I galloped him last Friday,” Williams said of last year’s Caulfield Cup runner-up.
“He looks superbly weighted in the Caulfield Cup but I also think he’d be a realistic Cox Plate chance.
“Lloyd rang me the other day and asked me to have a good look at the Turnbull as he feels it can be a race for the run-on horses.
“I’ll do that but I guess we have to wait to see the final field before committing to anything.”
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