Craig Williams topped a stellar year in the saddle when he piloted 2011 Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden to victory in the Group 1 $2.5m Hong Kong Vase(2400m) at Sha Tin today.
Williams took the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival by storm but missed the Cup winning ride on Dunaden due to suspension.
Williams previously won the Geelong Cup on the French galloper and trainer Mikel Delzangles was happy to re-engage the Australian today.
That faith was richly rewarded as Williams despite interference in the straight gave Dunaden a great ride.
From barrier three the five-year-old travelled kindly in sixth place in a race led by Darren Beadman on Mighty High.
The on-course favourite Campanologist settled fourth while Melbourne Cup runner up Red Cadeaux settled second last on the fence.
Beadman slowed the pace but Fabio Branca on Jakkalberry joined him half way to ensure the pace remained steady.
The Alain de Royer-Dupre galloper Vadamar was caught three wide under Melbourne Cup winning jockey Christophe Lemaire and was given little hope.
In the straight Williams was locked between horses as Redwood, who had travelled three wide without cover weakened.
Hong Kong’s Thumbs Up dwarfed Dunaden as he passed him with momentum slightly taking his running.
At the 200m Jakkalberry, Campanologist and Thumbs Up were three abreast with Dunaden sprinting between the latter two.
Red Cadeaux made a strong run down the outside with Silver Pond along the fence.
Dunaden had three-quarters to spare over Thumbs Up while Silver Pond and Red Cadeaux dead-heated for third another three quarters away.
Williams this season won the Caulfield Cup (Southern Speed), Cox Plate (Pinker Pinker), Sandown Guineas (So Swift), Winterbottom Stakes (Ortensia) and W A Guineas (King Saul) and is the highest prizemoney earning jockey in Australia.
I’m an Australian,” Williams said.
“Nothing makes up for missing out on the Melbourne Cup.”
“It gives me a great thrill that I can reward the people like Sheikh Fahad (owner) and Mikel Delzangles who have stood by me and supported me.
“I was so confident after riding him in work on Tuesday.
“He was actually in better condition here than he was in Melbourne.”
Delzangles says a return to Australia with Dunaden is on the cards.
“Nothing is decided for the long term except that we want to go back to Australia,” Delzangles said.
“In the short term he is having a big holiday.”
French mare Sarah Lynx pulled up short in her action.