Williams to reclaim ride on Dunaden at Ascot

Australian jockey Craig Williams is free to reclaim the mount on Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden in the Group 1 £1m The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (1 mile 4 furlongs) at Ascot in England on Saturday.

Williams has been unable to renew his association with Dunaden since winning the Group 1 HK$14m Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase (1 mile 4 furlongs) at Sha Tin on December 11 because of his commitment to his Japan Racing Association contract.

But the international star will be replacing Christophe-Patrice Lemaire after the French jockey finished second on Dunaden to Sea Moon in the Group 2 £200,000 Hardwicke Stakes (1 mile 4 furlongs) at Royal Ascot on June 23.

Christophe-Patrice Lemaire was called in to replace Williams prior to his 2011 Melbourne Cup victory after Williams had to sit out the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) because of suspension.

Williams was aboard Dunaden in his final lead up to the Cup when he took out the Group 3 $240,000 Geelong Cup (2400m) at Geelong but was subsequently suspended for careless riding.

Dunaden’s owner Sheik Fahad Al Thani said that he was impressed with Williams’ professionalism when he first met the top jockey in Australia and was prepared to fly him to England for Saturday’s race.

“We were very unlucky twice in the Hardwicke Stakes at Ascot, but that is racing,” Sheikh Fahad said.

“I’ve studied the videos, and I believe Craig has a special relationship with Dunaden.”

“Craig has impressed me greatly.”

“When we first met, he turned up with a folder under his arm, and inside he had the running patterns for all the opposition.”

“He was able to tell me his tactical plan, and explain how he was going to execute it.”

Williams returned to Melbourne after a two month stint in Japan which netted him twenty winners including a Group 1 victory and has barely had time to unpack his bags before flying out to England.

Sheikh Fahad hasn’t finalized Spring plans for Dunaden and will wait and see how the six year old performs at Ascot on the weekend.

If he finishes in the placings a trip to Paris for a tilt at the Group 1 €4m QATAR Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe (1 mile 4 furlongs) at Longchamp 0n October 7 will be on the agenda but if he misses a place in the The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes a return trip to Melbourne to defend his Melbourne Cup crown could be on the cards.

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.