Racing: Dunaden to bypass possible clash with Frankel

Dunaden (yellow with blue stars) will defend his Melbourne Cup title. Photo / Getty Images
Dunaden (yellow with blue stars) will defend his Melbourne Cup title. Photo / Getty Images

Winning a second Melbourne Cup appeals as a much more achievable task than beating Frankel in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the racing manager in charge of French stayer Dunaden says.

Dunaden is on his way to Australia next month to defend his Melbourne Cup crown and for that, Victorian racing officials can indirectly thank the team behind racing superstar Frankel for helping them secure a genuine spring carnival drawcard.

"At the end of the day we won't have to face Frankel [in Melbourne]," Sheikh Fahad Al Thani's racing manager David Redvers told radio station Sky Sports Radio.

"There is a slight chance he would have to face Frankel in the Arc. That's a decision [Frankel's connections] haven't made yet but there's a 50:50 chance he'll go there."

Dunaden is expected to be put into quarantine early next month.

"We are keen to get out there as soon as possible," Redvers said.

"He seemed to thrive in Australia last year ... he absolutely loved his trip."

Dunaden won the Geelong Cup before edging out Red Cadeaux in the Melbourne Cup but Redvers confirmed the stayer would take an alternative path this year by contesting the Caulfield Cup.

"Apart from the prize money, which is an obvious consideration, there is the weight he would have to carry at Geelong," he said.

"I don't think there is a great deal of point going back to Geelong."

Dunaden is expected to be close to top weight in the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. "We're just eight days away from releasing the weights for the Caulfield Cup and I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that Dunaden will be up towards the head of the weights," Racing Victoria handicapper Greg Carpenter said.

"Through the entries that we got for the Caulfield Cup certainly Dunaden and Americain are the best-credentialled stayers in the field.

"He won the Melbourne Cup last year with 54.5kg and, of course, after that race he went to Hong Kong and won the [group one] Hong Kong Vase.

"His form in Europe this year has been very good, indeed, so he'll head the weights along with Americain when they're released next Wednesday."

From California to Flemington to Dubai and back, Unusual Suspect is nothing if not well-travelled.

How well he is travelling, however, is something trainer Mick Kent hopes to discover at Caulfield on Saturday.

Unusual Suspect begins his second Australian campaign in the listed Slickpix Stakes (1700m) with the backing of a trainer's confidence and a couple of promising trials.

"He's ready to race, hopefully he'll race well," Kent said. Unusual Suspect arrived in Melbourne last spring as one of America's best-credentialled turf gallopers.

In his major spring targets, the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, he ran respectable races, finishing sixth and ninth respectively.

English stayer Gatewood has been added to Terry Henderson and Simon O'Donnell's Caulfield and Melbourne Cups arsenal.

About 24 hours after Henderson and O'Donnell's Quest For Peace booked his trip, Gatewood ran a close second in the group two Grand Prix de Deauville (2500m) in France.

The pair's OTI syndicate will be represented at the spring carnival by Quest For Peace, Gatewood, Ibicenco and Prairie Star, despite the last-mentioned's last of 11 in Monday's Grand Prix.

Henderson and O'Donnell also race triple group one winner Manighar, who is likely to run in the Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup.

Henderson, speaking from Deauville, said Gatewood had been beaten a short neck by Masterstroke, a horse who top French trainer Andre Fabre expects to measure up to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

"I thought he had it won," Henderson told the Herald Sun.

"One of Fabre's 3-year-olds pounced and just got us on the line and we had to give him 5kg."

The TAB cut the Caulfield Cup odds of Gatewood from $51 to $25 and has him at $51 for the Melbourne Cup.

Henderson said Gatewood's run would push up his rating to the point that he will be given enough weight to gain a Caulfield Cup start.

He said the John Gosden-trained 4-year-old would be on the first planeload of internationals to arrive in Melbourne on September 29.

"He and Quest Of Peace are similar horses. Both will run in the Caulfield Cup and, if they race well, they will be competitive at worst in the Melbourne Cup," Henderson said.

While Prairie Star, a group two and three winner in France, ran poorly, Henderson said the 5-year-old was also destined for Melbourne.

Henderson said Prairie Star got on the wrong leg on the turn, lost his action and compounded.

A barrier trial ride on this year's Queensland Oaks winner could be a forerunner to leading jockey Damian Browne becoming a familiar figure in Sydney racing this season.

Browne made a special trip from Queensland to Sydney on Monday to continue his successful association with Quintessential.

He first rode the John Sargent-trained mare during this year's Brisbane winter carnival, combining for a Queensland Oaks win and a Queensland Derby placing.

Sargent has since opened a Warwick Farm stable to complement his premiership-winning New Zealand operation and Browne hopes to play a role in helping the trainer become established in Australia.

"Hopefully, I'll be coming down a bit more to ride for John," Browne said.

Whether the former New Zealander can ride Quintessential in her spring return will hinge on which race Sargent has picked out for the 4-year-old.

"Obviously, I would like to stick with her all the way through if I can," Browne said.

Quintessential is expected to resume at Warwick Farm on Saturday week after pleasing Browne with the way she finished off in a 1000m Hawkesbury heat.

"They ran good time and she made nice ground [to finish fourth], so she seems to have come back well," he said.

"If there was a negative, I was hoping she might have grown a little.

"She's not overly big. She's just a lean, mean, racing machine."

- AAP

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