A mouth-watering rematch between Dunaden and Red Cadeaux, who fought out the closest finish in Melbourne Cup history last week, will unfold in next month's Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase.
Dunaden's trainer, Mikel Delzangles, confirmed yesterday his six-year-old gelding will take his place in the 2,400m Vase at Sha Tin on December 11. The decision to head to Hong Kong was made after the French-trained stayer made a better than expected recovery after winning the two-mile marathon in Australia.
'The horse is in very good form and he came out of his race very well,' Delzangles said. 'I think we will have a fair chance.'
Also a factor is the convenience of making a stopover in Hong Kong en route to Europe. Making the trip with horse and connections should be the Melbourne Cup trophy, delivered on a promise to Dunaden's former trainer, Richard Gibson, who is in his first season training in Hong Kong.
Dunaden remains in quarantine, along with Red Cadeaux, at Weribee in Victoria. Speaking from France, Delzangles said the horse was thriving. 'We are just keeping him fit ... and he should be fit for this race,' he said.
Dunaden prevailed by the shortest winning margin in the Melbourne Cup's 151-year history from the Hong Kong-owned Red Cadeaux last week. It took judges an agonising three minutes to separate the pair as they used a magnifying glass on a high resolution print blown up to four times its usual size. They finally declared Dunaden the winner of the A$6.2 million race. Dunaden's new travel plans give Red Cadeaux, owned by former Hong Kong Jockey Club chairman Ronald Arculli, a chance to reverse the heart-breaking result. Joining the pair in the Vase could be 2010 Melbourne Cup winner Americain, who was fourth in this year's race.
Americain, who was third in last year's Vase, will contest the Group Two Zipping Classic (2,400m) at Sandown on Saturday, with Hong Kong-based jockey Gerald Mosse granted permission to take the ride.
Dunaden would join Americain and Rogan Josh as the only Melbourne Cup winners to contest the Vase. Both were beaten as favourites in Hong Kong with Rogan Josh finishing fourth in 1999.
Delzangles could not confirm who would ride Dunaden. Former Hong Kong-based jockey Craig Williams was originally booked to ride Dunaden in the Melbourne Cup, but was forced to miss the race through suspension after he had won the Geelong Cup on the horse.
Christophe Lemaire flew to Australia the day before the race to take the winning ride. 'It should be Christophe Lemaire but we don't know yet,' Delzangles said.
Jockey Club executive director of racing Bill Nader said the strong international entries showed the Vase had 'arrived' as a world-class staying event, after traditionally being regarded as the weakest of the four Group Ones on International Day. 'Getting Dunaden, along with Red Cadeaux, is a big deal and I think Americain is better than 50-50 to come,' Nader said.