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Williams to ride Dunaden in King George
Mike Hedge
06:22 AEST Tue Jul 17 2012

Craig Williams landed back in Melbourne on Monday, but only to re-pack his suitcase.

The globe-trotting jockey is off again this week to ride Dunaden in England's best open company race, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot.

The booking came at the insistence of Dunaden's Qatari owner Sheikh Fahad Al Thani who is gaining a reputation as one of the most fastidious and knowledgeable major owners in world racing.

Williams has an unusual on-again off-again relationship with Dunaden on whom he won last year's Geelong Cup and Hong Kong Vase.

Due to suspension Williams missed the ride on the French-trained stayer in the Melbourne Cup and again had to forego the mount on the horse due to commitments in Japan when it finished an unlucky second at Royal Ascot.

While Sheikh Fahad wasn't unhappy with Cup-winning jockey Christophe Lemaire's unfortunate ride at the Royal meeting, he has rushed Williams back for the King George.

"We were very unlucky twice in the Hardwicke Stakes at Ascot, but that is racing," Sheikh Fahad said.

"The reason Craig is back on him is that I believe he has a special relationship with the horse.

"Craig has impressed me greatly."

Williams completed a profitable, two-month stint in Japan earlier this month during which he rode 20 winners, including one at Group One level.

His absence from the back of Dunaden in the Melbourne Cup is one of few mishaps for Williams during a 2011 spring carnival in which he landed the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate.

Trainer Mikael Delzangles said before the Royal Ascot run Dunaden would almost certainly miss this year's Melbourne spring carnival and be targeted for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

But that plan could be revised after the King George.

Sheikh Fahad said victory in the King George would definitely earn Dunaden too much weight for a defence of the Melbourne Cup.

But if he fails to run a place on Saturday, he could return for both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.


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