Their former Melbourne Cup champion Dunaden may have been ruled out of a third trip down under for the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival riches but Sheikh Fahad’s Pearl Bloodstock are still eying off the 2013 Cox Plate prize with their progressive galloper Side Glance.
Two seasons ago Dunaden travelled to Australia and debuted with a win in the Geelong Cup which led to their devastatingly close victory over Red Cadeaux in the ‘race that stops a nation’ – the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
They returned to Oz last spring and secured our second biggest cup race, the $2.65 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) before failing to defend their Melbourne Cup title when a disappointing 14th to the Lloyd Williams-owned Green Moon.
While the now seven-year-old Nicobar stallion has been racing well this time in including their recent third in the Group 1 Prix Ganay (2100m) in France, Dunaden will not be returning for their third consecutive spring preparation.
Instead the Mikel Delzangles-trained champ will be aimed at the 2013 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in early October.
“We were delighted with him. It was another great run from the old boy and he’s clearly as good as ever,” Pearl Bloodstock’s racing manager David Redvers told At The Races this week speaking of Duanden’s Prix Ganay run.
“He was running over a trip that would is widely considered on the short side for him, but he showed plenty of dash.
“We had been considering going to Singapore with him, but we’ve taken that out of the equation and our aim is to try and win a Group One middle-distance race in Europe.
“The end-game target is definitely the Arc and we have a few options in between then.”
The same connections though aren’t giving up on another successful raid with Passing Glance gelding Side Glance being prepared by Kingsclere-based trainer Andrew Balding for a shot at Australasia’s weight-for-age championship – the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) in October.
Side Glance has won seven of their 24 career starts to date, the most recent of which was a Group 3 over 1713m at Epsom Downs back in June last year.
At their two latest runs in March they finished fourth firstly to Sajjhaa in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta (1800m) at Meydan followed by another fourth this time well beaten when seven lengths off Animal Kingdom in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup (2000m).
Latest Cox Plate odds at the Aussie bookies are led by the Murray Baker-trained Sydney Autumn 3YO Triple Crown champ It’s A Dundeel ($4.20) who was a shock second when beaten by the Chris Waller-trained import Reliable Man in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) last Saturday.
They are tipped to take Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom again at Royal Ascot in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (1609m) in June where Black Caviar’s four-time Group 1 winning half-brother All Too Hard could also be among their rivals.
“At the moment the long-term plan is the Cox Plate and we are going to go globe-trotting as much as possible,” Redvers said.
“I think the Queen Anne, rather than the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, will probably be his target at Royal Ascot but that has still be discussed.
“He loves that straight mile. The big concern about running him in Dubai was the tight track in the World Cup, but he handled it very well.
“The great thing about him is that he is so incredibly versatile. He does need good ground but, other than that, the world’s our oyster.”
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