Damien Oliver thinks he is on the right horse to win this year’s Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington next Tuesday after getting a late call up to ride French stayer Americain.
Oliver will replace French jockey Gerald Mosse who finished an unlucky fourth on Americain in last year’s cup behind the Mikle Delzangles trained Dunaden who has been asked to carry 59kg this year, 4.5kg more than last year.
While Americain will carry the same weight of 58kg after getting beaten by one and a half lengths last year, Dunaden is going into this year’s Melbourne Cup at the top of his game with a last to first win in the Group 1 $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 20.
Rival jockeys Oliver and Craig Williams are both happy with the progress of their mounts after solid hit outs at Werribee on Wednesday and are ready to clash again in another Melbourne Cup after Dunaden proved superior in 2011.
Both French stayers will be striving to win their second Melbourne Cup after Americain was victorious in 2010 while Dunaden was a narrow winner last year.
Williams is looking to make amends for last year when he missed the winning Melbourne Cup ride due to suspension after taking out the Group 3 $300,000 Centrebet Geelong Cup (2400m) on Dunaden but had some consolation in taking out this year’s Caulfield Cup on the seven year old.
“My feeling is that I don’t believe weight will stop him,” Williams said.
“The way the horse let down, the way he ran his last 600m, most importantly the way he extended and recovered, he’s right on target for Tuesday,” he said.
“On the way he worked before the Caulfield Cup and what I felt today, I am very confident going into the Melbourne Cup.”
Williams is still searching for his first Melbourne Cup trophy while Oliver is looking for number three after saluting on Doriemus in 1995 as well an emotional victory on Media Puzzle in 2002.
“He was really bright. He’s more imposing being on him than from afar. I was really taken by his athleticism. He was really light on his feet and has great acceleration,” Oliver said after trackwork on Wednesday.
‘I thought his Caulfield Cup run was terrific and it is probably not the ideal track for him.”
”He’s a great two miler and getting to Flemington on the bigger track is going to be his biggest asset.”
After finishing fourth in the Caulfield Cup behind Dunaden with 58kg, the Alain de Royer Dupre trained eight year old will meet Dunaden, who received a 1kg penalty for the win, 1kg better when they line up in the Melbourne Cup.
Oliver knows there is still a lot of work to do before he can claim another Cup and it is no surprise that he regards Dunaden as one of the hardest to beat along with a number of the other international visitors.
‘I respect Dunaden a lot and the horses that run well in the Caulfield Cup usually run very well at Flemington,” he said.
“You also have to respect those internationals that did not run in the Caulfield Cup as well.”‘
Americain has overtaken Dunaden at the head of the Melbourne Cup market at $6 while the Caulfield Cup winner is now at $7 with English stayer Mount Athos at $8 in front of Maluckyday and Red Cadeaux on $11.