x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Dunaden prevails to give Qataris cheer in Melbourne Cup

The Qatari-owned Dunaden prevailed to win the Melbourne Cup.

Christophe Lemaire, the French jockey, centre, tries to take in his victory on Dunaden in the Melbourne Cup yesterday, after holding off Red Cadeaux's challenge.
Christophe Lemaire, the French jockey, centre, tries to take in his victory on Dunaden in the Melbourne Cup yesterday, after holding off Red Cadeaux's challenge.

Dunaden gave Sheikh Fahad Al Thani the biggest win of his short career as an owner yesterday when the five year old took the Melbourne Cup in a pulsating finish.

The French-trained horse was the Qatari Sheikh's first runner in the 3,200-metre handicap and became only the fifth foreign raider to steal Australia's greatest racing prize in the 151-year history of the Group 1 race.

"It is a dream come true and a great honour to have a runner in this race, let alone a winner," Sheikh Fahad said. He also had the grace to acknowledge his good fortune, particularly in reference to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who has now had 17 runners without a win in the race that is said to "stop a nation".

"He deserves it more than me," said Sheikh Fahad, who could complete a memorable week on Saturday when Strong Suit competes in the Breeders' Cup Mile against the mighty Goldikova. "I hope he wins it when I don't."

With 200 metres to go, it looked like Godolphin might finally improve on their three second-place finishes in the race when Lost In The Moment took a narrow lead. There were still five other horses challenging, however, and Dunaden and Red Cadeaux, trained by Ed Dunlop, came with a late run up the centre of the track and were locked in a furious sprint to the line.

With a record 11 foreign runners, the international brigade filled six of the first seven places in front of the crowd of 105,979. Americain, last year's winner, was fourth, Manighar, trained by Luca Cumani, was fifth, while Lost In the Moment edged out a fast-finishing Fox Hunt, owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, for sixth.

Lucas Cranach was third by one and half lengths. There will be much soul searching at this result by the Australian public, who were bemoaning the bumper international entry in the lead-up to the race.

For Godolphin, the pain of another near-miss was made more acute by the run of Modun, who finished last of the 23 runners. A recent recruit to the Dubai-based operation, the former Sir Michael Stoute-trained gelding was having his first run for Saeed bin Suroor and struggled with the unusually slow early pace.

"We didn't get any cover in the race so he probably didn't switch off 100 per cent and relax. Therefore, he found the two miles a little testing today," Kerrin McEvoy, Darley's retained Australian rider, said. "He is only lightly raced so I would not put two miles out of the question just yet but it may be the case that he will be suited by dropping back in trip."

Dunaden's victory was a triumph for Sheikh Fahad's judgement. Having won a Group 3 over 3,200m at Longchamp in France in April, the 22 year old decided to leave the horse out of the Ascot Gold Cup in England in June to save his handicap mark for the challenge in Australia. It was a decision contrary to the advice of David Redvers, his racing manager, and Dunaden will now be aimed at Royal Ascot's feature contest in 2012.

"It is truly humbling and thrilling experience," Redvers said. "A day like this you dream about as a runaway teenager."

 

sports@thenational.ae

 

@ For more on HORSE RACING, visit thenational.ae/topics