The Mikel Delzangles trained and Craig Williams ridden Dunaden (FR) won the $2.5m, Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on Saturday by a half-length in an outstanding display of training and horsemanship to come from barrier 18.
Craig Williams steers Dunaden to victory in the Caulfield Cup, picture quentinjlang.com
Alcopop was second with Lights Of Heaven (NZ) third. Americain (USA) was fourth and My Quest For Peace (IRE) fifth. The favourite Glencadam Gold (IRE) led for three-quarters of the race, but was under pressure with 700m to run and finished 15th.
Delzangles had paid a flying visit to Melbourne to check on Dunaden and had been impressed by what he had seen with the horse in fine form and enjoying being back in Australia.
However, there had been despair from the Dunaden camp when stable representative Geoffrey Fabre drew out barrier 22 at the barrier draw on Wednesday and ultimately Dunaden started from barrier 18 after three emergences did not start.
Immediately the barriers opened. Williams went across to the rails to settled Dunaden third last as the speed went on in the battle for the first turn. That was won by the $4.20 favourite Glencadam Gold (IRE) and Jim Cassidy at the 1800m. They then set a solid tempo with 2L to Voila Ici (IRE) and Vlad Duric, followed by December Draw (IRE) and Secret Admirer.
Williams had Dunaden (58kg) sleeping back in the field, as planned and with some 15L to the leaders as they streamed past the 600m.
The leaders compounded as they swung for the main straight once again, but Williams was well clear of any backwash as he had started a wide run with 500m left to run. Eventually he was the widest runner of all, but with a clear straight in front of him.
Meanwhile Alcopop (52.5kg) and Dom Tourneur had burst into the lead with 250m to run and the rest of the field was fighting for position to chase if they could.
Dunaden flattens his ears as he charges past the field, picture quentinjlang.com
Dunaden showed a serious turn of foot under the big weight courtesy of his 2011 Group 1 Melbourne Cup win and the seven-year-old quickly reeled in the field, and then Alcopop. He reached the lead with 100m to run and Williams sent him away for a half-length victory.
It was an historic win with only Viewed and Rising Fast in modern times winning the Melbourne Cup and then the Caulfield Cup the following year.
Alcopop (Jeune) ran well under his light-weight to keep second with Lights Of Heaven (53kg) (Zabeel) and Luke Nolan also using their weight for third with the margin 3/4L, while Americain, joint top-weight with Dunaden, was a noticeable fourth a short neck away. My Quest For Peace was a nose away in fifth.
The time was 2.28.82 on the Good 3 track with the final 600m in 36.35. Dunaden paid $13.00 on TAB.com.au.
Dunaden had drifted out significantly after the barrier draw on Tuesday from $7 out to $14, but gathered support on Saturday with wagers including $2,000 @ $11 and $4,700 @ $11.
When the Caulfield Cup market was first released, TAB took one bet of $1,000 @ $26 before taking another of $1,000 @ $24 in early October.
Fabre was on the phone relaying the race and the last comment before he hung up after the win was that he needed a bonus for drawing the wide barrier.
“What a horse and what a super ride,” he said.
Craig Williams kisses the Caulfield Cup after Dunaden's victory, picture quentinjlang.com
Fabre said that he had discussed the draw with Williams and when he asked Williams if he should be sacked for drawing out the wide barrier that Williams had replied that he would rather be on the best horse than the best draw.
“This horse is remarkable, he does remarkable things and he’s broken records today with being the first allocated top-weight to win the Caulfield Cup how many years?” he said.
“He has just thrived since he’s been at Werribee and that is the difference. I think he hates France and loves Australia.
“I always thought his better chance today was in the Caulfield Cup. He’s got to carry 58kg with no penalty over an extra half a mile (800m) in the Melbourne Cup but he is just an outstanding horse,” he said.
Fabre explained that the reason that owner Sheikh Fahad was not at Caulfield to witness the win was a commitment to his major UK sponsorship.
“They would all love to be here but they are sponsoring the biggest days racing in the UK at the moment, the QIPCO Champion series which kicks off tonight obviously with Frankel and that’s the only reason they are not here,” he said.
“They will all be here in force for the Melbourne Cup.”
Williams missed the Melbourne Cup win through suspension but made up for it by winning on Dunaden in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase over 2400m at Sha Tin in December.
“I don’t like looking back on the bad luck but I’m very lucky because I’ve got a great family group around me and friends and very fortunate in that sense,” he said.
“Hong Kong was closure for me on this horse. The way that Mikel Delzangles was with the support was amazing after last year’s Melbourne Cup.
“There’s nothing better than winning races like this but to enjoy it with a horse that I’ve got such a great affinity with and also the people around that make it that more special.
“This horses’ story is amazing and it’s about him today. Mikel Delzangles, what a trainer,” he said.
Dunaden, picture quentinjlang.com
Dunaden is an entire by Nicobar out of the Kaldounevees mare La Marlia and he races under Sheikh Fahad’s Pearl Bloodstock banner. Lightly raced he has faced the starter just 34 times and he has won ten and placed in 16 for stakes of $6,935,611.
“I remember even going out there today that he won the Melbourne Cup last time. I watched a movie called Real Steel and I remember the movie so well and I reckon there is a great line in it which probably sums up this horse – he is the people’s champion,” summed up Williams.
Full result 2012 Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup