Ed Dunlop suffered Melbourne Cup heartbreak as Red Cadeaux was denied on the line by French raider Dunaden at Flemington Park.
The Newmarket handler was having a first crack at the Emirates-sponsored Group One and he looked set to make a victorious debut as Red Cadeaux, ridden by Micheal Rodd, claimed the lead inside the final furlong. However, jockey Christophe Lemaire produced Dunaden in the dying strides to edge out Red Cadeaux in a photo finish to the two-mile event.
The wining margin was by a nose, the shortest winning distance in 151 runnings of the race, and Dunlop was understandably disappointed.
“I thought beforehand that he wouldn’t like the ground but that was a fantastic run.
“I was watching it with Luca Cumani and he thought I’d got it on the nod but the best I thought we’d got would have been a dead heat.”
Rodd added: “I would have preferred to have been beaten by half a length than like that.”
Both Red Cadeaux and Dunaden, trained by Mikel Delzangles, were settled near the rear of the field early on as Illo set a steady pace up front before turning up the gallop a notch.
There were plenty in with a chance as the field straightened for home with Cumani’s Manighar kicking for home early before Anthony Freedman’s German import Lucas Cranach went in pursuit.
It was that horse who was in front around a furlong and a half out, but Red Cadeaux was keeping on strongly while Lemaire was challenging between horses on Dunaden.
Red Cadeaux held a narrow advantage on Dunaden just strides from the post but Lemaire conjured a last rally from his mount to gain the day.
Lucas Cranach claimed third from last year’s winner Americain, who flew down the outside to finish fourth.
Lemaire only stepped in for the ride at the last minute after Craig Williams was ruled out of the race through suspension.
He said: “They went very slowly in the beginning but on the back straight we started to go a bit faster and I was always confident. The horse in front of me was going really well and it brought me to the front very easily.
“I was a bit anxious after the line. A rider on a pony told me they thought I had won and then when I turned the corner back towards the stands, everyone was applauding me.
“The atmosphere and the passion here, it is really something special.”