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Ed Dunlop hopes Red Verdon can develop into a horse capable of becoming the first British-trained winner of the Lexus Melbourne Cup.
Having finished second in the ‘race that stops a nation’ on three occasions with Red Cadeaux, the Newmarket handler feels the five-year-old could be a potential contender for the two-mile contest, should he get in.
The son of Lemon Drop Kid, who has finished second at Pattern-race level on his last two starts, may attempt to move a step closer to an outing at Flemington on November 6 by taking in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday.
Dunlop said: “It brings back great memories. We’ve been beaten two pixels, then had the drama of losing our favourite horse in the race. There have been a lot of emotions in the Melbourne Cup, but predominately all have been fantastic.
“The challenge is the big thing. It was not something that was really on my radar, it was Ronnie Arculli (owner) who’d had a runner in the race in the past, he had a fascination with it and he said ‘let’s take Red Cadeaux’. It is a special place.”
He went on: “We are having a lot of discussion about Red Verdon, whether he will get in.
“He is rated 109, so he might need to go up a bit. He could run at Royal Ascot in the Hardwicke to try to guarantee a spot in the race, as the owner is keen to go out there with him.
“The race is getting harder to win, as it is attracting proper Group One horses.
“We’ve been very lucky and have won international races all over the world.
“This is a race we’ve come agonisingly close to winning. It is a race that stops a nation and it stops almost the whole world.
“I remember when we were second for the first time. We had friends and associates who had nothing to do with racing that contacted us about it. There are few races that are global entities, but this is one of them.”
Speaking at an event to promote the Melbourne Cup Carnival at Somerset House in London on Monday, Victoria Racing Club chairman Amanda Elliott praised representatives from Britain, Ireland and Europe for their help in making the race the highlight it has become on the international racing calendar.
Elliott said: “The Melbourne Cup has been made so much better by the inclusion of British, Irish and European contenders.
“Every year now about half the field is made up of international participants who come an awfully long way to have a crack.
“The Brits, who have tried harder than anyone else, haven’t won one yet and we really want a British winner.
“I want the Queen’s horse Call To Mind to win. I want William Haggas to bring this wonderful horse over that has just won in America, as it’s the perfect horse to come.
“We are over here in London with the Melbourne Cup for the fact they have made the race so much better.
“The greatest change has probably been the elevation of the race because of the quality of horse in it due to the international runners.
“There is now a wonderful Ashes-type feeling we now get with the ‘raiders’ as they are fondly tagged as.
“There is this wonderful ‘them against us’ feeling about the competition, which engages a huge audience both racing and non-racing.”