French stayer Dunaden has emphasised the dominance of international raiders in the Geelong Cup with a decisive win which has him pressing for Melbourne Cup favouritism.
Dunaden is the fourth overseas-trained horse to win the Geelong Cup in 10 years and his credentials for the Melbourne Cup could hardly be better after Wednesday’s win in the 2400-metre $225,000 feature.
International raiders have made it fashionable to run in and win the Geelong Cup and then the Melbourne Cup with Irish stayer Media Puzzle (2002) and Dunaden’s compatriot Americain last year both landing the big race double.
English stayer Bauer won the 2008 Geelong Cup and was beaten a lip in the Melbourne Cup.
TAB Sportsbet slashed Dunaden’s Cup quote from $21 to $9.
Only Americain, who runs in Saturday’s Moonee valley Cup, is shorter at $7.50.
With Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed not in the Melbourne Cup, Dunaden’s emergence is great timing for her Caulfield Cup-winning jockey Craig Williams.
“The way he went I am happy to be on him in the Melbourne Cup,” Williams said.
“There were only 13 runners today, the numbers weren’t there, but he won and that’s all he had to do.
“He was the best horse in the race and that is why he was the topweight.
Dunaden carried 58kg on Wednesday, the same winning weight as Americain last year which was the highest since Craftsman won in 1966.
Williams made his run on Dunaden from third last around the field at the 600 metres and loomed up to the leaders rounding the home turn.
One of the fancies at $6, he quickly had the race under control and was strong to the line to beat $3.10 favourite Tanby by three-quarters of a length.
Bauer ($5.50), ridden by his 2008 Geelong Cup-winning jockey Damien Oliver, was badly held up in the race rounding the home turn but finished strongly and looked unlucky when another three-quarters of a length away third.
Dunaden is the first Australian runner for French trainer Mikel Delzangles who learned his craft as an assistant for 10 years to Americain’s trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre.
He finished ninth in this year’s Group Two Group Two Prix Kergorlay (3000m) at Deauville which was the same race Americain won last year.
This year’s Kergorlay winner Jukebox Jury is also in the Melbourne Cup as are other Kergorlay runners Manighar, who was fourth in the Caulfield Cup, Red Cadeaux and Americain.
Dunaden, who has 54kg in the Melbourne Cup, is already assured of a start at 14th in order of entry but is liable for weight penalty.
Americain was penalised a half-kilo last year, Bauer a kilogram and Media Puzzle 1.5kg.
Tanby is also qualified for the Melbourne Cup and his effort to finish second was remarkable given that he was diagnosed with colic after the Geelong Cup.
Bauer’s third was enough to qualify him for the Melbourne Cup and the nine-year-old is now 42nd in order of entry.
Travelling foreman Charlie Henson said Bauer ran his usual brave race and didn’t have much luck.