A number of leading 2013 Melbourne Cupcontenders have entered quarantine in Newmarket ahead on their flight to Australia in just over two weeks’ time.
The first group of European-trained horses arrived at the International Equine Centre at Werribee last Saturday but a further eleven horses are set to arrive in Australia on Caulfield Cup Day (October 19).
Included in the group is classy French stayer Dunaden who will be returning to Australia for his third straight tilt at the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Dunaden made his Australian racing debut with a strong victory in the 2011 edition of the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) and became the second-straight French horse to win ‘the race that stops a nation’ when he beat Red Cadeaux by a pixel a fortnight later.
The Nicobar entire returned to Australia last year and recorded a memorable fast-finishing victory in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) but finished a disappointing 14th in the Melbourne Cup after the race wasn’t run to suit.
Connections of Dunaden had set the seven-year-old for the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc De Triomphe (2400m), which will be run in France on Sunday, but changed their minds after the stayer ran poorly in the Group 2 Prix Foy (2400m) at Longchamp on September 15.
Joining Dunaden in the Newmarket quarantine facility overnight was long-time rival Red Cadeaux.
Red Cadeaux and Dunaden have met on six occasions all around the world; with their most memorable battle their enthralling tussle in the final stages of the 2011 Melbourne Cup.
Red Cadeaux is also returning to Australia for a third straight crack at the Melbourne Cup after finishing a credible fourth in the Group 1 Irish St Leger (2816m) at Curragh just over a fortnight ago.
Also returning for another tilt at the Melbourne Cup is Luca Cumani-trained Mount Athos who finished fifth behind Green Moon in last year’s race.
The Montjeu gelding was arguably the run of the race last year and returned to his best form with a narrow second place finish behind Harris Tweed in the Listed March Stakes (2816m) at Goodwood last start.
Other Melbourne Cup contenders that entered quarantine overnight are: Irish St Leger winner Voleuse de Coerus, Michael Owen-owned Brown Panther, French stayer Verema, Gai Waterhouse-trained Tres Blue and the lightly-raced Caravan Rolls On.
Joining them on the flight to Australia will be Queen Elizabeth Stakes contender Shikarpour, new David Hayes acquisition Stipulate and Mikel Delzangles-trained Havana Gold who has been set for the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m).