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A new French challenger will follow the lead of last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Americain when he runs in the Group Three Geelong Cup.

Trainer Mikel Delzangles confirmed his consistent stayer Dunaden would have his Cup leadup in the 2400m race at Geelong on Wednesday week after the horse worked at Werribee on Sunday with race jockey Craig Williams in the saddle.

“The horse is just how I wanted to see him,” said Delzangles who arrived in Melbourne on Saturday.

“He’s relaxed, he is fit, he looks fine.”

Williams was able to add further weight to Dunaden’s spring prospects after Sunday’s 1600m gallop.

“The feeling he’s given me is that he’s going to be very competitive in the Geelong Cup but it is the Melbourne Cup where we’ll see the best of him,” Williams said.

Dunaden is one of three international runners scheduled to run in the Geelong Cup, a race that is becoming a traditional Melbourne Cup leadup.

Plans are also for 2008 winner Bauer to run in an attempt to qualify for the Melbourne Cup after connections came away from Saturday’s Caulfield meeting bitterly disappointed with the circumstances surrounding the horse’s sixth placing.

Bauer ran a solid race to come from the rear of the field, a position stable representative Francesca Cumani said had not been contemplated pre-race.

The Bart Cummings-trained Illo, a German six-year-old, will make his Australian debut in the Geelong Cup with his program after that still to be announced.

As well as Bauer, who followed his Geelong win with a close second at Flemington, the race was chosen by Irish trainer Dermot Weld for Media Puzzle to qualify for the Melbourne Cup he won in 2002 and last year Americain followed the same pattern, becoming the first French horse to win Australia’s biggest race.

Cups plans appear to have resolved themselves for English trainer Brian Ellison whose Caulfield Cup entrant Saptapadi now seems assured of a run in Saturday’s Group One, thanks largely to the number of Lloyd Williams-owned runners not expected to run.

Williams has confirmed Midas Touch and At First Sight are out of contention and a doubt exists over Linton’s prospects.

In their absence, weights would be raised a further half a kilogram.

Saptapadi ran well to finish eighth in Saturday’s Herbert Power Stakes, a race in which his stablemate Moyenne Corniche finished third.

Both horses came through the race well and Ellison confirmed Moyenne Corniche would run in the Lexus (2500m) on Derby Day in an attempt to ensure a Melbourne Cup start.

Among other big-race bookings, Williams confirmed he would ride Southern Speed in the Caulfield Cup and Kerrin McEvoy said he had already started a diet to ride Caulfield Guineas winner Helmet at 49.5kg in Saturday week’s Cox Plate.


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