Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden was a luckless second at Royal Ascot on Saturday
Emirates Melbourne Cup hero Dunaden was beaten 3.25 lengths into second place behind Sea Moon in the Hardwicke Stakes (2400m) at Royal Ascot overnight, but he was arguably a good thing beaten despite the margin.
Trainer Mikel Delzangles watched the replay in near disbelief when his initial thoughts on the race were confirmed by the video.
Dunaden had been travelling sweetly in fifth place and within three lengths of the leaders coming to the turn in the star-studded Group 2.
However ,he was trailing the Aidan O’Brien trained Memphis Tennessee who commenced to weaken rounding the turn and carted Dunaden back through the field.
How many lengths he lost is hard to estimate but suffice to say it was several and his prospects quickly diminished from bright to forlorn.
Last year’s Cup winner was then severely hampered with 300 metres to run and lost all momentum while the winner Sea Moon had a full head of steam.
“He was very unlucky,” said Delzangles in that wonderfully understated way of the French.
It was bad news for Dunaden’s connections and possibly bad news for Australia as his effort was so good, he may now be prepared for the Brigadier Gerard Stakes and October’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe rather than for a Melbourne Cup defence.
“We have made no firm decisions yet about his program,” Delzangles said.
However last year’s Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux, 0.7 lengths behind Dunaden in third place, will return to Melbourne.
“Of course you will,” said trainer Ed Dunlop when asked, by Australian journalists, whether he’d been seen in Melbourne this spring.
Red Cadeaux finished a clear margin ahead of fourth placed Aiken, who’s a Cup possible, while the now Australian owned Jakkalberry was a creditable fifth on ground which was probably too soft for his liking.
“He ran a very good race,” Dunlop said of Red Cadeuax, “but Dunaden has now beaten us three times, and I think he’s proved he’s the better horse. Hopefully we won’t have to bump into him too often.
“We’ll freshen him up and give him one more run before going back to Melbourne.”
Australian-owned and Luca Cumani-trained Quest For Peace sat three wide on the speed, with no cover, before finishing a fading 10th.
The winner Sea Moon, trained by Sir Michael Stoute and ridden by Ryan Moore, is likely to be aimed at the Arc.