Williams: ‘Dunaden is a more powerful horse’
Saturday 21 July 2012
By Geoffrey Riddle
Craig Williams has revealed that Dunaden has improved physically and that he would have no qualms about missing some of the Melbourne Spring Carnival to partner the horse in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Dunaden faces nine rivals in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot today and the 35-year-old jockey stepped off the plane from Australia yesterday morning in order to take the ride.
Williams was on board when Dunaden augmented his victory in the Melbourne Cup with a win in the Hong Kong Vase in December but has not ridden the six-year-old since.
“My feeling was that he improved after the Melbourne Cup and his work in Hong Kong was far better than in Melbourne,” Williams said. “Since then the reports from David Redvers (racing manager to owner Sheikh Fahad) are that the trip has brought the horse on and he has physically improved again.
“They tell me he is just a stronger and more powerful horse.”
Dunaden started the European turf season by finishing third in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket before trying unsuccessfully to give weight to Aiken in the Grand Prix de Chantilly at the beginning of June.
Trained by Mikel Delzangles, Dunaden was sent off the 9-2 second favourite for the Harwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot but finished second to Sea Moon, having been badly hampered under Christophe Lemaire in the Group Two contest.
“He got into a lovely position and then all of a sudden he was taken back through the field and got stuck behind a horse and he went from being in the first four to being one of the last horses and then got impeded in the straight,” Willams added, in an interview with RSN Racing and Sport, an Australian radio station. “I love how he sprinted to the line after being stopped in his tracks a few times.
“If he is quite forwards in a race he can get outsprinted at one stage. There are not many horses that I have ridden that pin their ears back and try as hard as he does.”
Redvers revealed today that the Arc in October is definitely the long-term plan and Williams, whose unrealised ambition is to win the Longchamp race, would have no qualms at missing some of the Melbourne Carnival to ride in Paris.
"The Arc is one of the classic races on the world stage so if you had a chance in that it would be pretty hard to bypass – I don’t think it would be too hard for an Australian jockey."