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Last year David Redvers was only too happy to hear the Melbourne Cup tip from the man selling coffee at the Werribee racecourse.
The barista had tipped out the winner Americain the previous year and he was tipping Dunaden to all his customers in the leadup to the the Flemington feature.
And for the second straight year, he was proven correct.
But Redvers, the racing manager for Dunaden's Qatari owner Sheikh Fahad bin Abdullah Al-Thani, has only got to hope the coffee man has burnt the beans for this year's tip, Irish raider Galileo's Choice.
Asked at yesterday's international runners' press conference at Werribee about how he felt Dunaden would perform in tomorrow's A$6.2 Melbourne Cup, Redvers replied: "I was very confident about him winning until Sheikh Fahad spoke your coffee man downstairs. He tipped Dunaden last year and Americain the year before but he didn't tip [Dunaden] this year."
However, Redvers offered a strong Melbourne Cup tip of his own, while Sheikh Fahad was also tipping out a Dunaden win.
"We are very confident with him," Redvers said.
"We've got a special horse - a horse that's done some extraordinary things. The Caulfield Cup win was one of the finest performances I've ever seen in any race, let alone a Caulfield Cup. The horse is here in great form. You saw him out there. He's utterly relaxed, very happy."
Trained by France's Mikel Delzangles, Dunaden worked well within himself at yesterday's trackwork session but looked bright and willing and poised to become just the fifth horse to win successive Melbourne Cups and the first since Makybe Diva's three wins in 2003-04-05.
The seven-year-old Nicobar stallion has won 10 of his 34 starts, most recently with a brilliant finish down the outside for Melbourne jockey Craig Williams in last month's A$2.5 million Caulfield Cup (2400m).
That was his third win in as many starts in Australia, having won the Gr III Geelong Cup (2400m) and Gr I Melbourne Cup (3200m) last spring.
Dunaden carried 54.5kg to win last year's Cup but has 59kg for tomorrow's feature, including a 1kg rehandicap for winning at Caulfield.
Sheikh Fahad made the seemingly outrageous claim yesterday that Dunaden was only 80 per cent fit in the Caulfield Cup, despite Redvers' assertion that it was the finest performance of his career.
"We are very pleased with the horse as we thought he was only 80 per cent fit for the Caulfield Cup and he has come on a lot since then," Sheikh Fahad said.
"He is 100 per cent for the Melbourne Cup. The horse loves Australia and he definitely improves down here."
Redvers said Dunaden had was a vastly improved horse from last year's Melbourne Cup.
"If you ask Craig Williams, there's no doubt in his mind - and in Mikel's mind - the horse has improved quite dramatically from 12 months ago. He seems more muscular," Redvers said.
"Mikel said to me last winter 'I can't believe that a horse from five to six can improve so much over a winter'. We've seen this year the level of his form has improved and the greatest race of his life was the Caulfield Cup. We feel pretty confident he's the horse to beat."
Asked how hard it was to win a Melbourne Cup, Redvers quipped: "We've only tried it once and it was pretty easy actually. No, it's rapidly turning into the greatest horse race on the planet and just to be here competing in it is tremendous. To be here as favourite two years running is beyond our wildest dreams. We've got the right horse to do it again."
Dunaden won last year's Melbourne Cup by a nose from English stayer Red Cadeaux, prepared by Ed Dunlop, and Redvers rated him as the hardest to beat tomorrow.
"Ed Dunlop is best placed to get his revenge this year. We're giving a lot of weight to Red Cadeaux. That horse comes here fresh and well and Ed is a master at travelling these horses abroad and Mount Athos has a serious chance as well."
Williams retains the ride on Dunaden from the Caulfield Cup, having missed the winning ride in last year's Melbourne Cup through suspension. He was replaced by Christophe Lamiare, though Redvers said Williams was Dunaden's perfect match.
"He's a world-class jockey. There's nobody to touch him here, I don't think," Redvers said.
"He thinks things through and he gives the connections great confidence that he's left nothing to chance whatsoever. He gets on with this horse so phenomenally well. He absolutely adores him - there's a real bit of electricity between the two of them. We've got the right man for the job.''
Delzangles was missing from yesterday's function as he was supervising his horses at yesterday's Breeders' Cup meeting at Santa Anita, saddling Flotilla to win the Juvenile Fillies Turf with Lemaire in the saddle.
Meanwhile, Dunlop was optimistic of turning the tables on Dunaden with Red Cadeaux, especially as he meets last year's winner 2.5kg better tomorrow.
"We are better in than Dunaden but equally we are nought for three with Dunaden. He's beaten us three times and he'll probably beat us again, but we have a better chance," Dunlop said.
Dunlop would love to exact revenge for Red Cadeaux's defeat last year.
"I had moved on from that till I got back here because obviously television shows it every five minutes and I've been asked lots of questions about it," Dunlop said.
"It's different this year because we didn't have to qualify to come and we always planned to be here. The experts are telling me he looks bigger and stronger and I think that's the case. He's a very fresh horse. I hope I've done my job as well as I can and haven't left him too fresh. We're very happy.
"It's an enormous race and we all want to win it. No English trainer as won it - let's hope that's me."
- © Fairfax NZ News