The Prix De L’Arc De Triumph is still on the agenda for Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden after finishing unplaced in the Group 1 £1m The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (1 mile 4 furlongs) at Ascot on Saturday.
Before Saturday’s race, owner Sheikh Fahad was undecided whether Dunaden would return to Australia to defend last year’s win in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) run at Flemington or travel to France to contest the Group 1 €4m QATAR Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe (1 mile 4 furlongs) at Longchamp on October 7.
Sheikh Fahad’s racing manager, David Redvers, said a final decision hasn’t been made but it was highly likely that Dunaden would stay in Europe instead of travelling to Australia in the spring.
“There’s no definite decision yet as I haven’t had chance to speak to Sheikh Fahad but my inclination would be to stick to the original target,” Redvers said.
“We didn’t learn a great deal yesterday. He 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.”
“That said, my feeling is to stick to the original plan of the Arc and he’ll probably run in the Prix Foy beforehand.”
Australian jockey Craig Williams travelled to Ascot to partner Dunaden but found himself in the unfamiliar position closer to the pace than anticipated and failed to find his trademark finishing burst fading to finish sixth to German filly Danedream.
Danedream bounced back from an unplaced run at Saint Cloud in France on June 24 to finish too strongly for the John Gosden trained Nathaniel who looked to have the race sewn up when jockey William Buick shot the filly to what looked like a winning break at the furlong.
But Andrasch Starke was able to life last year’s Prix de L’Arc de Triomph winner in the final stages to gain victory by a nose and put her in fine tune to return to Longchamp to defend her French title.
“It was very tight, but I had a good feeling. This was most definitely one of the best races in the last few years, with so many class horses. It’s an unbelievable moment for Germany,” Starke said.
“I said before never to forget the best performance from a horse and she had won the Arc. We don’t really know what went wrong last time, but with animals it is going to happen. She fought hard and it’s definitely the biggest moment in my life.”
“It’s tough for her as a filly with the jump from three to four (years old), and this was going to be a difficult track with ups and downs. I think this was the most difficult race, so today is a historic win for her.”
German trainer Peter Schiergen said that the pace of the race at Ascot suited Danedream as opposed to the slow pace at Saint Cloud where the filly failed to run on.
“I thought we were second, but now it’s better we are first. The last race there was no pace, but today there was a good pace. It’s very important for Germany and it’s very good for German racing,” Schiergen said.
“If everything is all right, we’ll go to Baden-Baden (Grosser Preis Von Baden) next and after that we’ll go to the Arc. She will probably end her career in the Japan Cup.”