The chances of Dunaden travelling to Australia to defend his Melbourne Cup crown are fifty fifty after the six year old pleased his French trainer Mikel Delzangles when finishing second to Sea Moon in the Group 2 £200,000 Hardwicke Stakes (1 mile 4 furlongs) on the final day of Royal Ascot.
“He ran a very good race. He was a bit unlucky because he was stuck when the horses slowed up. He quickened very well,” Delzangles said.
Racing manager for Dunaden’s owner Shiek Fahad-al Thani, David Redvers said that Dunaden would have to finish in the placings in the Hardwicke and then his future planes could be mapped out.
Even though Dunaden has been installed the new $16 favourite for this year’s Melbourne Cup, a return trip to Melbourne and Hong Kong could be replaced by a European campaign with a run in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) at Longchamps in October on the agenda.
“From then on, the Arc would be his target, so we’ve got an exciting plan for him for the end of the season, but whether it’s Melbourne followed by the Hong Kong Vase or the Arc remains to be seen,” Redvers said.
Irish trainer Willie Mullins will use the Group 2 Artemis Goodwood Cup (2 miles) at Goodwood on August 2 to qualify Royal Ascot winner Simenon for this year’s Melbourne Cup.
A win or placing over 2300m in a Group or Graded race on the flat will help Simenon qualify for the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 6.
Mullins said that he would go to Goodwood with a trip to Australia in the back of his mind after his emerging stayer scored a double at Royal Ascot during the Carnival.
“He was very impressive and he seems a nice stayer,” Mullins said.
“He was dropped by the handicapper, so he is just going back up to where he was. I’d say with his age and maturity he’s just getting a bit stronger, I think.”
“The Melbourne Cup is at the back of our minds. I think we have a high enough rating now but we’d have to qualify by either winning a Listed race or being placed in a Group race I believe, although I’d have to check the conditions.”
“I think we’re aiming towards the Goodwood Cup at this stage.”
Simenon stepped out on the first day of Royal Ascot to score by six lengths in the Ascot Stakes (2 mile, 4 furlong) from Al Khawaaneej and Nafaath then was as equally impressive in winning the Queen Alexandra Stakes (2miles 5 ½ furlongs) by seven lengths on the final day of Carnival.
Mullins mixes flat races with hurdles and the five year old has had success over the jumps winning his maiden hurdle at Cork before scoring by fifteen lengths in his second win over the hurdles at Cork again on May 25.