Arculli's longest two minutes
Former Hong Kong Jockey Club chairman, Ronald Arculli is prepared to call Tuesday's Melbourne Cup 'third time lucky' despite his stayer, Red Cadeaux, being beaten by the smallest margin in the 150-year history of the race.
Arculli had an agonising two-minute wait while the judge had the finish print magnified to four times its original size before he was able to find a margin of victory for Dunaden ahead of Red Cadeaux, in a contest which would have been called a dead-heat without modern photographic technology .
'No horse has been beaten by a smaller margin, but I'm thinking it was a mixed blessing - definitely an improvement on my other two Melbourne Cup runners,' said Arculli, chairman of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, yesterday. His previous starters, River Verdon (1994) and Red Ruler (2010), finished 20th and 19th, respectively. 'No question, I would have preferred to win it, but second is better than third.'
No more than the width of a sheet of paper separated the Ed Dunlop-trained Red Cadeaux from the first prize of A$3.6 million (HK$29 million) in the world's richest handicap race, with the runner-up cheque worth A$900,000.
Arculli (pictured) and his wife, Joanne, watched the race from the Victoria Racing Club committee room along with Jockey Club chairman Brian Stevenson and his family, and Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges.
'It was impossible to know which horse had won on the post, but where we were as the horses came past us about 100 metres from the finish line, Red Cadeaux passed Dunaden as the horses drew level with me,' Arculli explained.
'We had been worried earlier in the day that with the track getting firmer and being upgraded that maybe it would be too firm for my horse, so it was very exciting to be fighting out the finish. He ran a blinder, the best performance of his career.'
A run in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase may be next on the agenda for Red Cadeaux, but Arculli will talk to Dunlop early next week about that.
'The 2400m is a little on the short side for him, but there isn't anything in Europe or the UK for him now so we may look at trying to get an invitation for the Vase - Americain ran third in it after the Melbourne Cup last year,' he said.
'Ed is having a few days off, then he goes to Japan, where he has Snow Fairy running, so I'll take a deep breath, then call him in a few days and see what he thinks of the idea.'