Dunaden bids to confirm middle-distance credentials

Dunaden bids to confirm his middle-distance credentials when he contests the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot today.

Winner of the Melbourne Cup last year, he went on to land the Hong Kong Vase over 12 furlongs but has yet to make a mark in two starts at that trip this term.

He finished third in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket on his first attempt while fellow Hardwicke runner Aiken had him in the same position at Chantilly last time.

Rather than contest the Gold Cup this week over two and a half miles, which would have been seen by many as the logical route given his victory over two miles Down Under, his French handler feels he has a decisive turn of foot.

Owned by Sheikh Fahad Al Thani‘s Pearl Bloodstock operation, his racing manager David Redvers said: “Mikel was of the view that he’s not a two-and-a-half-mile horse, he’s not a grinder he’s a bridle horse with a terrific turn of foot.

“You can totally ignore his last run in France and we think a stiff mile and a half at Ascot will suit him. We’ll see how he gets on.

“Either he’ll be a top mile-and-a-half horse and we can look towards the King George, or otherwise he’s a very good stayer.

“Either way we can look back towards the Melbourne Cup later in the year.”

Ed Dunlop’s Red Cadeaux finished just behind Dunaden in both Australia and Hong Kong and the pair clash again here.

In contrast, Red Cadeaux has enjoyed a fine start to his 2012 campaign, pushing subsequent Gold Cup winner Colour Vision all the way in the Sagaro Stakes on his seasonal bow.

He then won the Yorkshire Cup before putting up what was arguably a career-best effort to be second in the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

“This is our third run against Dunaden and he‘s come out on top twice already, but I can safely say our season has gone happier than his to date,” said Dunlop.

“I thought William Buick rode a great race the last day in France (on Aiken) and Dunaden had too much to do but all that aside, we‘ve been very happy with our horse.

“He’ll like the ground, despite having run well on fast ground, he‘s very adaptable and we used to think he wanted it soft.

“I just hope they don‘t have too much more rain as Ascot ground can turn a bit funny when it rains heavily.”

Dunlop also has another runner in the shape of French import Testosterone, formerly trained by Pascal Bary and second in the Prix Vermeille last season.

“She’s been bought to join us and has some very decent form in France, but it will be tough for her,” said Dunlop.

“She had an early setback and needed an operation on her sinuses and because of the programme for older fillies, this is the first place we could start her off. ”

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