1 Nov 2011

Dunaden wins Cup in dramatic finish

8:06 pm on 1 November 2011

French-trained horse Dunaden has won the 151st Melbourne Cup in a photo finish.

Second was English galloper Red Cadeaux.

French jockey Christophe Lemaire came from well back in the field to push hard at the last turn but was joined out in front by Red Cadeaux and the pair battled nose-to-nose to the line in the last 200 metres of the 3,200m handicap.

The ABC says it was one of the closest finishes in the Cup history.

Lemaire had only been guaranteed a start on Dunaden after Australian jockey Craig Williams lost his appeal to race, having been suspended on a careless riding charge.

He made an emotional salute to the Flemmington crowd after his ride to victory.

He said he was anxious and disappointed after he crossed the finish line because he knew the race had been very close, but then said he had been told "You win.".

Dunaden's victory in the 23-horse field followed Americain's win for France last year.

Americain ran as favourite this year but finished a breath out of third place.

Racing commentator Jack Petley told Checkpoint it was a "sensational cup".

Only 23 horses contest the race after the Lloyd Williams-owned Mourayan was scratched with a hoof problem earlier on Tuesday.

More than 100-thousand people packed the course for the running of Australia's best known and richest race.

New Zealand punters spent a little less at the Melbourne races this year probably, the TAB believes, because there were no local horses racing.

It is the first time in decades a New Zealand horse has not run in the prestigious race.

Just before the Cup race began, the TAB had recorded $6.7 million spent by New Zealand gamblers.

TAB spokesperson John Mitchell said that was about 10% down on last year.

However, Mr Mitchell says the TAB were stilled thrilled with their takings and it showed New Zealanders continued to back the race.

The TAB had been hoping history might repeat itself.

In 1987, when the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup, there was record-breaking betting on that year's Melbourne Cup.