x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Dunaden has easy draw inside for the Hong Kong Vase

Sheikh Fahad Al Thani's Dunaden gets an easy draw out of Gate 3, with Godolphin's Campanologist three more spaces inside. The fancied Rocket Man will break from Gate 13 in the Hong Kong Sprint.

Dunaden, here with Christophe Lemaire aboard for a winning run in the Melbourne Cup, will break from Gate 3 for the Hong Kong Vase.
Dunaden, here with Christophe Lemaire aboard for a winning run in the Melbourne Cup, will break from Gate 3 for the Hong Kong Vase.

Sheikh Fahad Al Thani's Dunaden will have no problems emerging from an inside draw in Sunday's Hong Kong Vase following yesterday's post-position draw at Sha Tin racecourse, according to the horse's trainer.

Dunaden was drawn in the No 3 stall, three places inside Godolphin's Campanologist, and trainer Mike Delzangles was optimistic of his charge backing up his victory in the Melbourne Cup in the 2,400m contest.

Last month, in Australia, Dunaden edged out Red Cadeaux, who will re-oppose from Gate 7, and the Sheikh's five year old is reportedly thriving ahead of his bid.

"He's freshened up nicely since Melbourne," Delzangles said. "I think his work has been very encouraging. I think he's just as well and happy as he was in Melbourne, so I am very hopeful.

"Maybe he would be better drawn a little bit wider but if there isn't much pace, he will be able to take a good spot."

Dunaden will try to improve on the record of Americain, last year's French-trained Melbourne Cup winner that went on to finish third to Godolphin's Mastery in the Group 1 feature.

Americain struggled 12 months ago with the lack of pace at a crucial period over a distance 800m shorter that at Flemington racecourse, but Dunaden is more likely to appreciate the drop back in trip.

The mount of Craig Williams has never finished out of the frame in seven runs over the Vase distance. The latest success was under the Australian rider in the Geelong Cup in Australia in October, and the jockey believes he has the best mount in the Dh6.6 millon race.

Dunaden worked over 1,400m on Wednesday and Williams could not have been more effusive.

"I will just use one word - superb," the 34 year old said. "He really lengthened well and his recovery was immediate. Looking at him, he's put on weight, and just the feel he gave me in trackwork tells me he's right to go on Sunday."

Rocket Man's attempt to better last season's runner-up spot in the Hong Kong Sprint was dealt a major blow when the Dubai Golden Shaheen winner was drawn in stall 13.

Only Sacred Kingdom, the domestic runner trained by Ricky Yiu, who was third 12 months ago, was drawn wider of the 14 challengers.

Rocket Man went down 12 months ago to subsequent Al Quoz sprint winner JJ the Jet Plane, and Patrick Shaw was phlegmatic at his chances of improving on that record.

"Well it's not the gate we would have wanted obviously, but he'll go forward from there because that's what he does. I won't say I'm not fazed by the draw, but what can you do?"

Rocket Man thrashed Sacred Kingdom by six lengths at Kranjii racecourse in Singapore in May, but was beaten by a neck by his long-standing rival in the 2009 race.

Rocket Man likes to be up with the pace, which will be difficult from his wide draw, but Yiu highlighted that Sacred Kingdom will be less inconvenienced.

The 2007 and 2009 Sprint winner raced in mid-division during both of his successes and the trainer revealed that Brett Pebble, the jockey, would be given orders to ride a similar race once again.

"It's a very competitive race. I would have been happy in the middle," he said. "I'm hoping for mid-division and we will save him to the last. I expect him to run well like he did last year. I think he is getting back to his best.

"Rocket Man is clearly our main danger."

 

Sports@thenational.ae