Leading jockey Craig Williams says the record weight that his mount Dunaden will have to carry in Tuesday's $6.2 Melbourne Cup is not an issue to the French star's hopes of winning back-to-back Melbourne Cups.
Dunaden is aiming to join the race's sole three-time winner Makybe Diva (2003-05) as well as Think Big (1974-75), Rain Lover (1968-69), Peter Pan (1932 and 1934) and Archer (1861-62) as the only gallopers to win the race that stops a nation on more than one occasion.
And the seven-year-old stallion is also aiming to join Poseidon (1906), The Trump (1937), Rising Fast (1954), Even Stevens (1962), Galilee (1966), Gurner's Lane (1982), Let's Elope (1991), Doriemus (1995), Might And Power (1997) and Ethereal (2001) as the only horses to win the Caulfield and Melbourne Cup double in the same season.
But to do so he will have to carry 59kg to victory, the highest since weights went metric in the 1972-73 racing season.
In fact you have to go all the way back to Rain Lover with 60.5kg in the second of his back-to-back Cups wins in 1969 to find the last time a horse carried more weight to victory in the Melbourne Cup with even Makybe Diva only carrying 58kg in her third Melbourne Cup win in 2005.
Dunaden carried 54.5kg to victory in last year's Melbourne Cup and now meets last year's runner-up Red Cadeaux 2.5kg worse off at the weights for his nose win in what was the closest ever finish to a Melbourne Cup last year.
And Dunaden is also 1kg worse off against Americain after the pair shared top weight of 58kg in the Caulfield Cup, in a race in which Americain - the 2010 Melbourne Cup winner - finished an unlucky fourth.
But Williams said luck in running from barrier 16 was more crucial to the horse's chances on Tuesday than carrying top weight of 59kg.
"As long as he gets the right run in the race and doesn't get any bad luck, the weight won't stop him," Williams told racing radio station ''RSN'' on Monday.
Williams said Dunaden was now a much improved horse from the galloper that won last year's Melbourne Cup and had even improved from his Caulfield Cup win with 58kg, just over a fortnight ago.
And while Americain shapes as Williams' biggest danger to winning his first Melbourne Cup - he was famously suspended and missed the ride on Dunaden last year having already won the Caulfield Cup with Southern Speed and the Cox Plate with Pinker Pinker - Williams said Americain's recent efforts also showed him horses could carry big weights and perform well in the big races.
"Americain's form has been super," Williams said of the fellow French horse's unlucky fourth behind Dunaden with 58kg both in last year's Melbourne Cup and this year's Caulfield Cup."But Americain's form also shows that horses can win these races with top weight and after receiving a weight penalty."
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