Melbourne Cup champion Dunaden is almost a week behind schedule in his preparation for Saturday's Group 1 Caulfield Cup, but his trainer and jockey believe he can still win the race.
Jockey Craig Williams rode Dunaden in his final Cup gallop at Werribee yesterday, declaring the horse to be as good as ready.
"The trainer said he's about a week away from where he wants him to be and I'd say that's spot on," Williams said.
"He worked really well today and he's still got some improvement left," the jockey said.
Williams said his confidence in the leading international-trained runner in the Cup is high, but it would improve if Dunaden draws an inside barrier.
His French trainer Mikel Delzangles, who flew into Melbourne on Sunday for the gallop and left yesterday, said Dunaden missed a week's work last month due to foot abscesses.
But he has made up much of that since arriving in Melbourne and would go to the post on Saturday fit and ready.
"He looks as well, even better than when he left the quarantine in England," Delzangles said.
He admitted to some slight concerns before seeing the horse work yesterday, but they had mostly disappeared as a result of the gallop.
"I was happy, the jockey was happy, the horse was happy," he said.
Both Williams and Delzangles believe Dunaden is a different horse to the one who took out the Geelong and Melbourne Cups last spring, describing him as stronger and sharper.
"He's a lot sharper, I spent the first two furlongs of his work today getting him to come back and settle," Williams said.
"That's why the barrier is important ... he needs to get cover. Last time he was more dour and he'd settle without too much drama."
Although Dunaden is a seven-year-old in his fifth season of racing, Delzangles believes he went through a substantial physical change during the last 12 months that will help him cope with the extra weight he has to carry in the two Cups.
"The horse changed during the last winter in Europe, he's now stronger," he said.
"He is definitely a better horse, I'm not sure if he's a four kilos better horse, but he is better."
Delzangles confirmed Dunaden would run in the Melbourne Cup, even if he wins on Saturday and is forced to carry a penalty on top of his 58 kilogram handicap. AAP