Top English trainer Ed Dunlop is willing to dismiss Red Cadeaux’s last two defeats leading into the Group 1 HK$15m Longines Hong Kong Vase (2400m) at Sha Tin in Hong Kong on Sunday.
Red Cadeaux returned to Flemington in November after being beaten by the narrowest of margins when second to Dunaden in the 2011 Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) to record an eighth to Green Moon in a Cup in which the tempo of the race made it impossible for the back makers.
And then the six year old lined up in the Group 1 US$6.5m Japan Cup (2400m) at Tokyo on November 25 and after striking trouble at a critical stage fought to the line to finish eighth to Gentildonna.
Initially rider Gerald Mosse had thought Red Cadeaux had broken down in the Japan Cup, but the big red gelding picked himself up and fought right to the finish pulling up only with superficial cuts on his right hind leg.
“He did come out of that race with a cut on his right hind tendon and cuts all over his leg, but they were superficial and he’s tough and battle-hardened and knows his way around here,” Dunlop said.
Dunlop had no hesitation in continuing his Asian campaign and said that Red Cadeaux had travelled to Hong Kong in fine order.
“He’s actually a bit heavier now than he was in the Japan Cup and that’s a sign he has enjoyed coming here,” Dunlop said.
Dunlop was happy with Red Cadeaux’s form when he returned to England after the disappointment of being beaten a whisker in last year’s Melbourne Cup and then running third to Dunaden again in the Hong Kong Vase, convincing the Newmarket trainer that his stayer could mix it with the best in the world.
“Really, it was this race last year when he proved he could mix it with top-class 2,400-metre horses and, as I’ve said many times, his form in Europe in 2012 shows he is a better horse now than he was then,” Dunlop said.
“Second in a Coronation Cup, won a Yorkshire Cup and third in the Hardwicke: he has been there or thereabouts all year. His last two runs might not attract much attention on face value, but the way the Melbourne Cup was run, it was almost a prep race for what we are doing in Asia.
“He ran well in Japan, he was the best European. He was checked as he was making his run and should have finished sixth, even though he got slightly injured.”
Since winning the Group 2 £140,000 Sportingbet Yorkshire Cup (1 mile, six furlongs) at York on May 18, Red Cadeaux has been placed twice at Group 2 level as well as running second to St Nicholas Abbey in the Group 1 £300,000 Diamond Jubilee Coronation Cup (1 mile 4 furlongs) at Epsom on June 2.
Overall Dunlop is content with Red Cadeaux going to Sha Tin attempting to win a second Hong Kong Vase for the respected English trainer after winning the 2400m weight for age feature with Ouija Board in 2005.
Red Cadeaux is a $10 chance with archrival Dunaden the ruling favourite at $3.60 just in front of Sea Moon at $3.80 with the French galloper Meandre is next in the betting at $7 while Dancing Rain is the only other runner under double figures at $9.