A brave run in a somber edition of the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes (2414m) at Royal Ascot over the weekend has seen connections of the European-trained, Australian-owned Dandino confirm their trip down under to contest the 2013 Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.
In a race marred by the sudden post-win death of the Hardwicke champ Thomas Chippendale, Dandino pulled out all the stops to run a gallant second to the ill-fated winner.
The shock and sad passing of the Sir Henry Cecil-trained Thomas Chippendale wasn’t the only horror event during the Hardwicke either with further drama playing out during the run when Ekithaam slipped on a bend losing their jockey Paul Hanagan and causing mayhem for the remaining horses that still had their jockeys in tow.
Despite the mayhem Dandino still managed to catch the eye, hanging on after being overtaken by Thomas Chippendale, who suffered a suspected heart attack after their hard fought victory, with 600m left to travel but holding on to finishing just a length off them on the line.
“He ran a good race. Unfortunately it was a bit messy and it’s sad to hear the winner had a heart attack,” Botti said.
“He stayed on well and (jockey) Frankie (Dettori) said that just around the corner he had to edge out because of the loose horse and lost a bit of momentum.
“He’s genuine and straightforward and a pleasant horse to have in the yard.”
Trainer Marco Botti confirmed after the run that Dansili stallion Dandino, now owned by Victorian-based Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock, would be making the trip to Australia for a shot at the spring carnival cups.
Both the $2.5 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 19 and Flemington’s $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 5 remain on the agenda for Dandino despite their loss in the mile and a half Royal Ascot feature.
“I think you want a horse who definitely stays a mile and a half with a little bit of speed and they must like fast ground, which seems Dandino’s best ground,” Botti said when speaking about spring targets.
“Those are all the characteristics for a Melbourne Cup horse.”
Dandino is yet to win at Group 1 level but did win the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes (2400m) at Newmarket in April 2011 and were the eye-catching runner-up in the Group 1 Canadian International Stakes over the same distance last October behind Joshua Tree at Woodbine.
Purchased by Darren Dance’s ATB operation at the start of the year, Dandio was transferred to Botti to prepare for an ambitious spring campaign down under as the owner-trainer duo look to improve on their third place in last year’s Melbourne Cup with Jakkalberry.
“I did enjoy it, it was a great experience with lovely people and obviously we had good fun,” Botti said of his trip to Melbourne last year.
“Let’s hope we’ll be back this year with a winner.”
Leading up to their third behind Green Moon in the Melbourne Cup Jakkalberry was 13th in the Caulfield Cup, and Botti plans to send Dandino down the same path.
“I think we’ll probably give him another couple of runs through the summer over here and keep him fresh for the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup, but I’ll have to finalise the plans with the owners,” he said.
“It’s still a few months away so let’s hope he comes out of the race well.”
Their good international form over the mile and a half (2400m) has seen Dandino installed as an $18 chance in the futures Caulfield Cup odds at the Aussie bookmakers which are led by crack Kiwi colt It’s A Dundeel ($7).
They are yet to be tested over further than that and so there are doubts about their ability to step up to the two miles (3200m) for the iconic Melbourne Cup.
Still they are one of the top early fancies in the Melbourne Cup betting markets at bookmaker.com.au at a quote of $21 equal with three other horses including the Caulfield Cup favourite.
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