Sheikh Fahad Bin Abdullah Al Thani knows that Dunaden will have to produce all of his champion qualities if he is to win back to back Melbourne Cups at Flemington on Tuesday.
The prominent owner realised that Dunaden will need more than luck after drawing barrier sixteen and is relying on the talents of one of Australia’s best jockeys, Craig Williams to weave his magic in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) .
“But I still think our horse is a champion and he has a champion jockey on him,” Al Thani said.
“I wouldn’t swap him for any other horse. I’m very happy with him.”
“Winning the Melbourne Cup won’t be an easy task at all,”
Williams is also on a mission after missing out on the winning ride on the French stayer last year because of suspension.
The top international jockey was on target last year after riding Dunaden to win the Group 3 $300,000 Centrebet Geelong Cup (2400m) at Geelong in his final lead up to the Cup but ended up watching from the sidelines after incurring a suspension.
Williams was quick to make some amends winning on the French stayer in the Group 1 HK$15m Longines Hong Kong Vase (1 mile 4 furlongs) at Sha Tin at his following start and then was aboard when the pair won this year’s Group 1 $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 20.
Al Thani singled out Red Cadeaux as the hardest to beat after the Ed Dunlop trained seven year old was beaten a whisker by Dunaden twelve months ago.
“Red Cadeaux is well in at the weights than us this year and I fear him most,” Al Thani said.
Dunaden jumps up from 54.5kg he carried last year to victory to 59kg,which includes a 1kg penalty for winning the Caulfield Cup while Red Cadeaux jumps from 53.5kg to 55.5kg.
The 2.5kg advantage for Red Cadeaux should be enough to reverse the placings with only the smallest of margins in between the two last year, but Dunaden has raced at a high level since and showed is at the top of his game with a last to first win in the Caulfield Cup.
“I was very pleased with his win in the Caulfield Cup. I thought he was only 80 per cent fit going into the Caulfield Cup and he has come on a lot from the run.” Al Thani said.
Red Cadeaux came up with a wide barrier as well and will start from two outside Dunaden at eighteen but trainer Ed Dunlop was not perturbed by the wide draw and is looking forward to the rematch.
“I didn’t want to be twenty-four and I didn’t want to be one. Michael drew last year seventeen, we’re eighteen this year so I’m happy with that,” Dunlop said.
Dunaden is currently sharing the second line of betting with the Luca Cumani trained Mount Athos at $7.50 while 2010 Melbourne Cup winner Americain holds down the top spot at $5.50.
Red Cadeaux is sitting at $10 with the best placed Australian trained chance Maluckyday at $13.