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French Stayer Dunaden Wins Melbourne Cup in Photo Finish

French Stayer Dunaden Wins Melbourne Cup Race
Jockey Christophe Lemaire riding Dunaden, back, wins Race 7 the Emirates Melbourne Cup ahead of Michael Rodd riding Red Cadeaux during Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. Photographer: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Dunaden won the A$6.2 million ($6.5 million) Melbourne Cup in a photo finish from Red Cadeaux to become the second straight French stayer to take out Australia’s richest horse race.

Trained by Mikel Delzangles and ridden by Christophe Lemaire, Dunaden edged its English rival by a nose at the end of the 2-mile (3,200-meter) handicap at Flemington Racecourse to claim the A$3.6 million first prize. Lucas Cranach took third ahead of last year’s winner Americain in another photo finish.

“It’s a great honor for me, it’s incredible,” Lemaire, who arrived in Melbourne yesterday and replaced suspended rider Craig Williams, said in a televised interview. “I was a bit anxious. I knew it was very close. It’s a great, great moment.”

Dunaden followed Americain’s victory 12 months ago to become the fifth northern hemisphere-trained horse to win in 151 editions of the the so-called race that stops a nation. Americain, which started as the bookmakers’ favorite, finished fourth as overseas-trained horses took six of the top seven places.

Tabcorp Holdings Ltd., Australia’s biggest gambling company, paid A$9.10 for a winning A$1 bet and A$3.40 for a top-three place on Dunaden. Red Cadeaux paid A$14.30 for a place and Lucas Cranach returned A$4.40 for finishing third.

Dunaden joins Ireland’s Vintage Crop and Media Puzzle, Japan’s Delta Blues and Americain as the only horses trained outside Australia and New Zealand to have won the Melbourne Cup since it was first run in 1861.

‘Dream Come True’

“It’s a dream come true,” Dunaden’s owner Sheikh Fahad al-Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family, said at the presentation ceremony. “It’s a great honor for us to have a runner in this race let alone a winner.”

Lemaire was given the ride on Dunaden late yesterday after Williams failed to gain a stay of proceedings in his appeal against a careless riding ban. A victory on Dunaden today would have made Williams the first jockey to sweep the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup, the three feature races of Australia’s Spring Racing Carnival, in the same year.

Connections of Dunaden had held the ride open for Williams pending yesterday’s decision, though had also arranged for Lemaire to fly to Melbourne from Tokyo.

Lemaire and Delzangles credited Williams for his help in Dunaden’s preparations, including piloting the 6-year-old to victory in the Oct. 19 Geelong Cup, a win that secured the horse a berth in today’s race.

‘Real Gentlemen’

“I feel bad for him,” Delzangles, a former pupil of last year’s Cup-winning trainer Alain de Royer Dupre, said of Williams. “I have to thank him for everything he did for the horse before because he’s been a real gentleman.”

The Luca Cumani-trained Manighar took the lead as the 23-horse field straightened for the run to the finish line. German-bred, Australian-trained Lucas Cranach headed the race with 300 meters to go before Red Cadeaux and Dunaden reached the front inside the 150-meter mark and hit the line together.

The judge deliberated for more than 2 1/2 minutes before declaring Dunaden the winner.

“I would have preferred to have got beaten by half a length than get beaten like that,” said Michael Rodd, Red Cadeaux’s jockey. “I know I’m on a 50-1 pop but it still hurts. It’s taken a good horse to beat him.”

Manighar (fifth), Lost In The Moment (sixth) and Fox Hunt (seventh) completed the dominance of the internationally trained runners.

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