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Dunaden's tough task for Melbourne Cup repeat

MELBOURNE (AFP) –

Seven-year-old stayer, Dunaden, is unbeaten in three starts in Australia

This file photo shows French horse Dunaden with jockey Christophe Lemair returning to scale after winning the Aus$ 6.2 mln 2011 Melbourne Cup race, last November. Dunaden has drawn a wide barrier as he aims to become just the fifth horse in history to win back-to-back Melbourne Cups over 3200 metres at the Flemington Racecourse on Tuesday.

French raider Dunaden has drawn a wide barrier as he aims to become just the fifth horse in history to win back-to-back Melbourne Cups over 3200 metres at the Flemington Racecourse on Tuesday.

The seven-year-old stayer, unbeaten in three starts in Australia, drew alley 16 in Saturday’s Cup barrier draw and is carrying 59 kilograms (130 pounds) in this year’s race compared with 54.5 kg last year.

Dunaden, who beat British galloper Red Cadeaux by a nose to win last year’s Cup, is the 6-1 second favourite behind 2010 winner Americain, who weighs one kilogram less and has drawn a more favourable barrier 12 in the 24-horse field.

Sheikh Fahad al-Thani, the owner of Dunaden, said he was not worried about gate 16 but the weight of the horse was a concern in the two-mile race.

“The barrier is OK, 59 kilograms is a worry. We’re hoping he can do it again,” he said.

Dunaden comes into the Aus$6 million ($6.2 million) race on the back of a powerful win in the Caulfield Cup (2400m) after drawing a wide barrier and producing a storming finish to score under an impost of 58kg.

French-trained Americain, listed as the 4-1 favourite, could be racing for the last time in the Melbourne Cup.

Dunaden beat British galloper Red Cadeaux by a nose to win last year's Cup

French horse Dunaden with jockey Christophe Lemair (L) heads to the finish line to win the Aus$ 6.2 mln 2011 Melbourne Cup race, last November. The seven-year-old stayer, unbeaten in three starts in Australia, drew alley 16 in Saturday’s Cup barrier draw and is carrying 59 kilograms in this year’s race compared with 54.5 kg last year.

Part-owner Gerry Ryan confirmed the eight-year-old stallion would finish his career if he is beaten.

Americain, who became the first French-trained horse to win the Melbourne Cup two years ago, will be ridden by two-time Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver, who will ride him for the first time.

There is a strong international field for Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup with the global Godolphin stable looking to end their Australian heartbreak with Cavalryman (50-1).

Godolphin has finished second in the race three times after Crime Scene was pipped by Shocking in 2009 to join Central Park (1999) and Give The Slip (2001) as the stable’s runners-up.

“Cavalryman has a very good draw (six). He can take any position in the race from stall six and it gives us options, trainer Saeed bin Suroor said.

“He won over two miles earlier this season, so we know he stays the trip, and he also goes on any ground, which could be important as there is rain forecast for Tuesday.

“We want to win this race. We will never stop trying until we do.”

Ireland’s Dermot Weld, who became the first international trainer to win the race with Vintage Crop in 1993, will saddle up the 18-1 chance Galileo’s Choice, while Newmarket trainer Ed Dunlop is bidding to go one place better with last year’s runner-up Red Cadeaux (8-1).

“He looks a million dollars and is a bigger horse and a thicker horse than last year, so hopefully that transfers into him going one better this year,” race jockey Michael Rodd said.

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