The future of world class stayer Dunaden will be decided after he runs in the Group 2 Prix Foy (2400m) in France on Saturday, with a return to Australia for the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) the most likely option for the seven-year-old.
The Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) has been the major goal for Dunaden this season and he has raced well at the highest level of racing without winning in the Dubai Sheema Classsic (2410m), Prix Ganay (2100m), Coronation Cup (2423m) and Grand Prix De Saint-Cloud (2400m).
Qatar Racing racing manager David Redvers said that owner Sheikh Fahad would love to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe but connections are unsure whether the son of Nicobar is good enough to win one of the highest-rated races in the world and are now considering a third straight tilt at the Melbourne Cup.
“He is running in the Prix Foy, which is one of the traditional prep races for the Arc and it will give us a very good guide of the horses wellbeing and it will help us make a decision whether we put him on a plane and bring him back down,” Redvers told Sky Racing HQ.
“He has been running against the best mile and half horses in the world this year in Europe and he has been coming up second most times.
“He is just that shade off being an Arc winner in our opinion.
“Obviously Sheik Fahad would love an Arc winner more than anything else but in our heart of hearts we feel that although he is up there with the best horses in the world over two miles, over a mile and a half he is just missing a bit.
“If he was to run in the Prix Foy and win it impressively it would make the decision much more difficult to bring him down to Australia but if he runs a great race and finishes third, running on in the end, I would say that we are 99 certain to come down to Australia.”
Dunaden has not been victorious since his fast-finishing win in last year’s Caulfield Cup but Redvers said that he believes the three-time Group 1 winner is in career best form and is a big chance to join Peter Pan as the only horse to win the Melbourne Cup on multiple occasions, in non-consecutive years.
“There is no reason to think that he is any less of a horse than the one that won the Melbourne Cup, if anything I think he is a better horse,” Redvers said.
“The weights are obviously a lot more compressed these days in the Melbourne Cup and it gives him much more of a chance.
“I am confident that if he comes down there he will be very competitive.”